Posted On: 06/26/18 6:12 AM

Let’s get the least bold prediction out of the way first: reigning Division IV State Champion Marion Local is running it back this year for the conference crown. King of the clutch and budding 6’7” prospect Nathan Bruns returns to the fold after a decorated junior season in basketball and football, which is pretty much enough for us to pick them to win the MAC.

However a lot is actually changing besides that. Bruns lost his running mate Tyler Mescher. Justin Ahrens is off to Ohio State. St. Henry also graduated a significant amount of talent. Therefore, there are bold stands to take! Here we go.

It’s a two-team race

It’s Marion Local, Minster, and then everybody else in our honest opinion. If you look at last season’s final standings, you’ll see that ML, St. Henry, Versailles, Minster, and Delphos St. John’s were pretty jumbled at the top before a steep drop-off. We’re forecasting less parity with a chance of Delphos St. John’s or Fort Recovery spoiling our prediction.

Although we’re sticking with Marion Local as our pick, Minster has a real shot at contending for a MAC and Regional Championship themselves. Point guard Mike Ketner solidifies their backcourt with a shooter and playmaker. Then, as we’ll discuss in a second, the frontline is going to give them a sizable advantage on most nights (pun intended).

Nathan Bruns will run away with the Player of the Year

Bruns is an unselfish playmaker who uses his height to find creative passing angles from the top of the key or near the rim. If you watch him in the summer with Northwest Ohio Basketball Club, he seem to take pride in passing the rock. Yet as we’ve seen in clutch situations, he also knows how to takeover with scoring.

Expect to see that aggressive scoring side of Bruns in important ball games this winter. He should be able to maintain last season’s average of 2.73 assists, but expect at least a five point increase from 2017-18’s 14.59 PPG. After all, Bruns is one of three rotation players returning for the Flyers and the other two combined for just under seven points per game last year.

Count on Cody Frericks and Jarod Schulze for 20 and 20

Last season’s Minster’s frontcourt of 6’6” two-sport prospect Cody Frericks and 6’9” center Jarod Schulze combined averages were already pretty close to combining for 20 points and 20 rebounds per game. Frericks, whose scoring totals we cannot track down, led the conference in rebounds at 9.0. Schulze went for 12.0 points and 6.24 rebounds per contest.

The points should take care of itself. While Ketner will lead the team some nights, there’s little doubt that Minster is going to pound it inside.

The rebounding part is more of a tough one. However, the league is collectively smaller than last season and we think a healthy Schulze will reach a double-double average by himself if he stays out of foul trouble consistently. For what it’s worth, Schulze also led the conference at 3.88 blocks per game as a junior too.

First Team All MAC

  • Mike Ketner, 5’11” PG, Minster
  • Jared Wurst, 6’4” G, Delphos St. John’s
  • Payton Jutte, 6’4” G, Fort Recovery
  • Nathan Bruns, 6’7” W, Marion Local
  • Jarod Schulze, 6’9” C, Minster

Here’s a little bit on each guy we haven’t really covered yet:

Ketner is poised to lead the conference in assists next season. He’ll lead Minster to a strong conference and overall record. Although he may top out just over 10 points per game, his mark on the MAC will be felt and rewarded. Nice NAIA/D-III prospect because of his poise, unselfishness, and shooting.

Wurst, who we wrote about yesterday in a Recruiting Report, is going to be the go-to guy for a top five MAC team next season. DSJ will scheme to get him open outside and post him up against mismatches. Wurst averaged 12.29 points and 6.24 rebounds per game last year and he’s getting better.

Jutte is also a no-brainer for the First Team honors after averaging 18.95 points last season, second in the MAC only to Justin Ahrens. Jutte is a finesse 6’4” guard that hunts for outside shooting opportunities. Teammate Grant Knapke will keep help-side defenders away from him because of the junior’s shooting threat.