In the classroom and on the court, the NU boys basketball team is … Making the grade
The Nevada Union boys basketball coach, Jeff Dellis, may worry that his players will have a bad shooting night or turn the ball over, but one thing he doesn’t have to worry about is whether or not every player on his team will be academically eligible to suit up for every game.
During the past 10 seasons, Dellis cannot recall a single incident in which the varsity squad lost a player because of academic problems.
“This is not a program where we save a spot for a kid who is ineligible grade-wise,” Dellis said. “If you can’t get ready from day one, no hard feelings, but get your grades up and try out again next year. It’s not good for team morale and it sets a dangerous precedent if we start to make exceptions.”
While academic success has always been important to the basketball program, this year’s players have taken that standard to a new level. Last semester, the entire team’s cumulative grade point average came out to a 3.5. Four of the team’s 15 players, Kevin Nelson, Zach Wood, Jared Vogel and Adam Green, posted 4.0 or better grades points this past semester.
So does this classroom success transfer to the hardwood?
Dellis and his players certainly think so.
“That intelligence or skills transfer to whatever the kids are doing out of the classroom,” Dellis said. “The players listen well in practice, ask questions and really understand the benefit of practice.
“Those who don’t do well in the classroom tend to resist direction and don’t see the long-term benefits of being prepared.”
The majority of the Miner squad this season has taken an advanced placement class or plans to next year. Anything from AP government, history or biology to calculus classes dot the players’ schedules.
“I think having guys that are so multi-talented, develops into a basketball IQ,” said Vogel, a junior guard who has a GPA well over a 4.0 and hopes to go to medical school. “Our players know where everyone should be on the courts and run the sets well. There is a direct correlation – school smarts translates into basketball smarts.”
At many schools, doing well in the classroom can land a student with a label like “nerd” or “geek”, but according Nevada Union basketball players those stereotypes – along with the “dumb jock” cliché – don’t exist nearly as much at NU.
“It’s O.K. to be smart at Nevada Union,” Dellis said. “So-called ‘computer geeks’ are also fabulous musicians and in my AP government class I have athletes ranging from water polo to softball to football. There is a tremendous crossover and there isn’t as much segmentation at NU like there is at some schools.”
So while members of the Nevada Union basketball team walk down the halls proudly after a Metro Conference win, they can be seen just as often, if not more, smiling while leaving a classroom with another grade of “A” scrawled across the top of a test or paper.
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