March 15, 2013

Beasley, Steffeck named first-team All-Americans

OSKALOOSA — It is only fitting that in the best year in program history, the national accolades would be equally spectacular as the 2012-13 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball All-America teams were announced Wednesday.

Seniors Brandon Beasley and Keith Steffeck were both named to the 10-person first team. The honors are the first for each player as a total of 71 players, including two more from the Midwest Collegiate Conference, received some form of national recognition.

The All-America awards are the 12th and 13th all-time for the program, but are the first top-team laurels since WPU joined the NAIA in 2001-02. Ten John Henry-coached players have now been honored at the top level (all since 2003). It is only the second time William Penn has produced two recipients in a year.

The duo helped William Penn to a school-record 34 victories this winter (34-2), including MCC regular season and tournament titles. Not only did this Statesmen team become the first to win a game at the NAIA national championships, the Statesmen also reached the title game for the first time ever. The Statesmen received the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking as well.

With strong performances at the national tourney, both players were able to parlay their first-team all-MCC awards into high national recognition.

Beasley, who was named MCC Player of the Year in February, averaged 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest. He also posted 120 assists, 83 steals and 43 blocks. The NAIA Player of the Week on Feb. 12, he managed 15 double-doubles and scored a career-high 29 points versus Central on Nov. 28.

“Brandon is the LeBron James of the NAIA,” William Penn coach John Henry said. “He is a ferocious, skilled all-around talent.”

Steffeck was equally impressive with 14.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He also managed a school-record 71 blocks in addition to 59 assists and 30 steals. The senior posted nine double-doubles this year and highlighted his campaign with 30 points against Clarke on Feb. 2.

“Keith is an amazingly-skilled player that runs and jumps like a gazelle,” Henry said. “He was a major matchup problem for every team this year with his size and shooting ability.”

Each stellar athlete played an additional half year prior to 2012-13, and despite such short careers, both finished with big numbers for William Penn. Beasley finished with 790 points (16.5 average) in addition to 394 rebounds, 129 assists, 104 steals, and 54 blocks. Steffeck tallied 771 points (14.3 average) along with 352 rebounds, 91 blocks, 67 assists and 38 steals.

“It has been my pleasure to call myself their coach,” Henry said. “They are part of my life and family forever.”

Ra’Shad James of Northwood (Fla.) was tabbed as NAIA Division II Player of the Year, while Cardinal Stritch’s Drew Diener was named national Coach of the Year.

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