Ward Leads Nation in Rebounds
Duce was an ace
Nathaniel Ward enjoyed super sophomore season
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- He made his mark because so many others didn’t.
Nathaniel “Duce” Ward, playing in his first season at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, was the nation’s best rebounder. Of the 1,012 players in Division I of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), no one reeled in more errant shots per game than the sophomore on the SAGU Lions basketball team.
Ward was an energetic force whose athleticism was on display as he gathered in 12.3 rebounds per contest. He averaged better than one rebound more than anyone, and was one of seven in the country to be credited with double-digits in the category. He was also #1 in all the land in defensive boards per outing at 9.0; #15 in offensive rebounds (3.3), and #35 in blocked shots per game (1.2).
Duce also poured in 14.1 points per game, finishing third on the team behind Ronald Horne (Waco, Tx / Univ of North Texas) and Jared Gibson (Dallas, Tx / West Plano HS) contributed 23.5 and 15.1 respectively. He scored on putbacks and jumpers within 15-feet. He excels as a finisher in transition, often with a two-fisted flush.
Horne scored more than anyone in the NAIA, while Gibson and Ward were #13 and #16 in the Red River Athletic Conference. Ward was a threat on the foul line where he converted 147 of 205 free throws (.717). He earned 7.3 tries from the charity stripe per game.
Ward is not built in the traditional power rebounder mold. He is a lean flyer at 6-foot-5, more like the Joakim Noah form than Shaquille O’Neal. During the Lions 12-19 season, he reached double-digits in rebounds in 22 of the 28 games in which he appeared. In the 12-team RRAC he was second in double-doubles with 17, reaching the feat each time in points and boards.
Only LSU-Shreveport’s Derrick Parker (20) had more.
The season included a 23 board effort in the club’s second game against LSUS. He averaged 18 against Langston University, 16.5 in two games versus LSUS and 16.0 in two outings against Paul Quinn College. The teams who kept him from dominating were Texas Wesleyan University (8.5 rpg), Texas College (9.0) and Our Lady of the Lake University (9.5).
Duce was #1 in rebounding
Ward goes by the name Duce after his father, the late Nathaniel Ward. His dad passed away during this past season, and he played the remainder of the games in his honor. He missed two contests to be with his family. The team attended the funeral on their way to Hobbs, New Mexico to play the University of the Southwest.
Instead of “Junior” he was referred to as “Deuce,” meaning #2, but spelled differently. His jersey number of choice was already taken, so he wore #33.
New Sheriff in Town
Southwestern will open their 2011-12 season in November under new head coach Donnie Bostwick. The former Oklahoma Wesleyan University head coach won an average of 31 games per season during a four-year stint in Bartlesville, including the 2009 national championship.
The squad figures to be built around the three bucketeers of Horne, Gibson and Ward. A review of those expecting to return as well as new recruits and/or transfers will be announced this summer and posted here.
Bostwick will also introduce his coaching staff along with the season schedule in the coming weeks. The team enjoys dual membership in the NAIA’s Division I and also the National Christian College Athletic Association.
SAGU SPORTS Live
The Lions will again broadcast their home games via Livestream beginning in January. The free access service is brought to fans in high definition on computers, laptops, iPhones and some other internet communication systems.