Nationals 2018 All-Tournament Team

With 24 teams congregating at EJ Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, the best of the best had a chance to showcase their talents at Nationals 2018.

Listed below is your Nationals 2018 All-Tournament Team


1) Brandon Meisel (MVP)

Grand Valley State University

The “best player on the best team” strategy usually works for these kinds of awards, and here we are once again proving this theory.  In all seriousness though, Meisel put on an all-time performance during GVSU’s Nationals run, and capped it off with an incredible national championship performance where he looked untouchable at times.  Using a combination of athleticism, throwing power and accuracy, and even some timely catches, Meisel was a unanimous selection as the Nationals 2018 MVP.  Even with a bevy of talented players surrounding him, Meisel was a cut above in almost every game.  Next year will likely be his last in the Laker uniform, but at this stage in his career he has already left a solid legacy in GVSU history.

-Hunter Ford


2) Aaron Krafft

Grand Valley State University

Aaron Krafft impressed me the most at Nationals. I wanted him to be MVP of Nationals, but Brandon is a tough opponent. Being the “second best player on the best team” helped Aaron slide in at second place for the All-Tournament Team this year. I have never seen any player take out as many opponents as sneakily and quietly as Aaron did at Nationals. I had the privilege of playing Grand Valley and officiating a few of their games in Richmond and no one impressed me like Krafft did. He slid under the radar but I believe that without Krafft, GVSU would not have been as successful.

-Colby Briceland


3) Austin Brege

Central Michigan University

Brege provided a strong presence for the Chips all weekend long.  On Sunday, against two tough opponents in PSU and JMU, Brege came through with big plays to will CMU ahead and help them make their way to the national championship.  Without him on the court, there was a legitimate chance that CMU would’ve fell much quicker than anticipated on Sunday at Nationals.

-HF


4) Ike Fleckenstein

Virginia Commonwealth University

Ike Fleckenstein capped his rookie season with a stellar performance at Nationals 2018.

This freshman for VCU may have been the biggest surprise of Nationals for teams outside of the East Coast.  In basically a 24-hour span Fleckenstein (or as we referred to him while commentating games: Mr. Reliable) went from a little-known rookie to a full-on star in the NCDA.  He caught just about ever ball thrown his way during VCU’s incredible overtime comeback over Saginaw Valley State.  Then the following day, he proved that performance was no fluke, as he was VCU’s most consistent performer in their match against Michigan State.  Fleckenstein had the definition of a “breakout performance” at Nationals 2018.  I expect a lot from this young talent next year.

-Kevin Bailey


5) Doug Schilling

James Madison University

Schilling has been a household name for a few years now but he turned it up a notch for his last NCDA tournament. He was making throws from all over the court and placing them where he wanted, with power. In their game against BGSU, Doug threw from his back line and absolutely destroyed a kid’s face who was standing at half court. It was heart breaking to see him sub out in his final match in the middle of overtime against CMU. You could tell he was hurting early on in the game but he toughed it out as long as he could and was able to tie the game in regulation and give his team a chance to win it in overtime.

-Dylan Fettig


6) Mike Riley

Central Michigan University

What else can/needs to be said of Mike Riley?  The man can do it all on the court and has takeover ability when necessary.  Even if he didn’t have a great championship performance, it was his leadership that guided this team all year and resulted in all the accomplishments they had.  Against JMU on both Saturday and Sunday he was exceptional as well, providing a good spark for this team at the beginning of Nationals.  At the end of the day, Riley will go down as one of the all time greats, and this is just more icing on the cake.

-HF


7) Brett Miller

Penn State University

This dude was a monster at catching! PSU was the only team that I had the pleasure of watching every one of their games at nationals and when they needed it most, Brett was good for a catch (or 3). They were the 16 seed playing the 1 seed (CMU) and constantly on the bad side of ball control yet Miller kept them alive by catching pretty much every ball that made contact with him. The most impressive part was his confidence and demeanor while standing on the back line. Teams were throwing 3 or 4 balls at the guy and he would calmly pick out the one that was going to hit him, catch it, and dodge the rest.

-DF


8) Max Kowalski

Max had arguably the most dominant performance at nationals for the Falcons. He in part led this team to the Semi-finals and their best season to date. Max was a dual threat with his thows being upwards of 70 MPH and his clutch catches to bring his team to victory. What stood out to me was his performance against my Akron Zips. He was able to survive to keep 1-0 lead against us, and was crucial in their victory over my squad. Max also shocked the world in an overtime thriller against Towson, and was able to be the surviving Falcon to take the overtime win.

-CB


9) Sam Stockdale

Grand Valley State University

Like I said, I played against GV, and officiated two of their matches on Sunday, and I was privileged to be able to watch this team on their path to a 6-peat. One player that stood out to me was Sam Stockdale. He is one of the big names for the Lakers, but can often go unnoticed in a match due to his ability to counter and stay off the radar. While watching them, I noticed that he didn’t speak much, but he was always a main part of the action. His well timed counters helped to helm the engine that was running on all cylinders on Sunday.

-CB


10) Ben Smart

Grand Valley State University

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing
Ben Smart was nearly unstoppable in GVSU’s victory over CMU in the National Title Game.

A star was born in the second half of the National Title Game.  That star, of course, was Ben Smart.  In one particular point, GVSU was down to two players against nearly CMU’s full roster.  Smart calmly pulled his team back into the game, making 4 or 5 catches in that point alone.  Later in the game he was running in front to teammates to make catches on balls not even targeting him!  His Title Game performance was so impressive, the fans still in attendance were chanting his name during the second half.  In only his second season on the team, Ben has made his presence known as one of the most reliable catchers in the league.  I expect big things from Mr. Smart next season.

-KB


11) Cody Putnam

Saginaw Valley State University

Cody is a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve. Every single match he played, he went out there and gave it all for his team. Before Nationals, he stated that it would be his last and best performance at a national tournament. I would say he produced. With a ball in his hand he was out there running people down and blasting them like he was 18 years old again. Standing on the back line he was making catches all over the place. I won’t even try to guess how many people he got out on the run up (including this gem). It’s fitting that SVSU retired his number because I don’t think they are ever going to find someone that can replace him.

-DF


12) Grant Webber

Central Michigan University

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people playing sports and basketball court
(From left to right) Brege, Riley, and Webber all had solid performances at Nationals 2018.

While Mike Riley gets most of the credit for the success of the Cippewas in the regular season, and rightfully so, Grant Webber helped this team more than we could have foreseen. He exploded onto the scene very quickly (only his 2nd season) as one of their captains for the 2017-2018 season, and he did not disappoint. Grant wasn’t the strongest or the fastest player but he was close to being the best because he played into his strategy of surviving. His perfectly timed throws and clutch catches at Nationals made him a stand out on Central’s roster all season and at nationals. Grant was able to help his team emerge victorious on a tough schedule until the Chips ultimately fell to GV. CMU is losing an integral part of their roster in Grant.

-CB


HONORABLE MENTION:

  • Tyler Paalman (Kent)
  • Reid Manger (BGSU)
  • Kyle Bruce (SVSU)
  • Ben Tubergen (GVSU)
  • Evan Eschenburg (JMU)
  • Hunter Whitehill (MSU)

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