Louisville—A Boyce College senior who never played organized basketball before donning a Bulldogs uniform took home the National Christian College Athletic Association’s top award for Division II athletes, the organization announced March 8.
Ben Akers, a senior forward from Danville is the first Boyce player to win the Pete Maravich Memorial Award, given annually to the most outstanding student-athlete in NCCAA men’s basketball. Akers is a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Danville.
“Ben has been a great example of the fact that hard work pays off,” said Boyce Bulldogs head coach Blake Rogers. “Ben never played organized basketball before coming to Boyce, but he has developed to be one of the best 3-point shooters in our league and has consistently led the nation in 3-points made.”
According to the NCCAA website, winners of the Maravich award must show excellence in skills, academics, and Christian service. Winning the Maravich award caps Aker’s record-setting career with the Bulldogs, one which had humble beginnings.
Because he had never played organized basketball before coming to Boyce, during his freshman season Akers played only 12 minutes a game and was hesitant to shoot. While Akers finished his career as team captain and one of the leading 3-point shooters in the country, it almost didn’t happen.
“It was an interesting transition playing for Boyce,” Akers said. “I played tennis in high school and was not used to the team aspects of sports. I almost did not try out for the team, because I did not want to sit on the bench all the time.”
After the coaches pushed him to work on his basketball skills, Akers developed as a premier shooter. Rogers, who has been Akers coach all four seasons, says he hopes that other Boyce players will emulate Akers’ work ethic.
This season, Akers averaged 15.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He finished with the third-best free throw percentage in the NCCAA at 84.2 percent, and his 44.5 percent 3-point shooting percentage was eighth in the country.
For his career, Akers scored 1,569 points and grabbed 670 rebounds for an average of 13.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. The past two years, Akers has been named to two All-Region first teams and the 2015 honorable mention All-American team.
Akers currently holds a 3.0 GPA in his youth ministry program and says he believes his time with the Bulldogs has prepared him for ministry as a youth pastor.
“The work I put in during my first year set a pattern I can follow for the rest of my life,” Akers said. “I understood that everything I did, whether shooting 3-pointers or leading a Bible study, had to be done with the best of my abilities to glorify God.”
The NCCAA award is named after Hall of Fame basketball player Pete Maravich, considered one of the best offensive talents in history. After his storied NBA career, “Pistol Pete” Maravich professed faith in Christ. The award is sponsored by Gary Beck, manager of the Gary Beck Foundation and a former NCCAA All-American student-athlete.
Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, began its NCCAA-affiliated basketball program in 2006. (SBTS)