Rise to the Occasion: Teamwork

By staying disciplined and playing together, they would do great things.

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Special Edition Horizons

March 19, 2018

Teamwork: Rise to the Occassion

Left to right: Will Nelson, Dalton Payton, LT Davis, Justin Harley, Jordan Dembley, Jeremy Deemer

As each game progressed, one unexpected win after the next, Graceland’s secret sauce would slowly be exposed to the world. On paper, there were more talented and experienced teams in the tournament. But Coach Doty and his staff preached repeatedly that despite the odds being against them, by staying disciplined and playing together, they would do great things. And that they did.

-Scott Thompson, Honorary Coach


On and Off the Court: A Class Act


Photo of Pat Draves and players.

Pat Draves with Jordan Dembley and LT Davis

“I had a first row seat for the entire men’s basketball season, and what a season it was. The student-athletes and coaches on this team taught us what is possible with hard work, determination, trust, attention to detail and teamwork. Witnessing their behavior on and off the court was a gift. Their kindness and humility, while being intensely competitive and committed to the excellence needed for a national championship, are models for our everyday work.”

President Draves, Graceland University

Coach Doty remarked, “Our bench from top to bottom was committed to helping each other. This is the toughest national tournament to win in all of college basketball, as we had to win five games in six days to win it all. Thanks to my staff for staying up until 3 a.m. preparing scouting reports, thanks to my administration, and thanks to our students and fans, who single-handedly changed the culture of our program from the stands.”

 

Jeremey Deemer hugs coach after victory Players pose with the Championship trophy Graceland players signal for a three-point shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Meet the Team


Photo of Justin Harley#1 Justin Harley

Class: Junior
Position: PF
Height: 6’6″
Hometown: Central Islip, NY

Major: Business Administration

 

 

Photo of LT Davis #2 LT Davis

Class: Senior
Position: PG
Height: 5’11”
Hometown: Rockford, IL

Major: Corrective Exercise and Performance Enhancement

 

 

Photo of Jordan Dembley

#3 Jordan Dembley

Class: Senior
Position: PG
Height: 6’2″
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Major: Sport Management

 

 

Photo of Nick Coleman #4 Nick Coleman

Class: Freshman
Position: G
Height: 6’1″
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Major: Sport Management

 

 

Photo of Waseem Limbada

 #5 Waseem Limbada

Class: Sophomore
Position: SG
Height: 6’3″
Hometown: Plano, TX
Major: Accounting and Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Michael Homza

#11 Michael Homza

Class: Sophomore
Position: PG
Height: 6’0″
Hometown: Brighton Heights, PA
Major: Criminal Justice

 

 

Photo of Dalton Payton #12 Dalton Payton

Class: Senior
Position: SG
Height: 6’7″
Hometown: Byron, IL
Major: Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Will Nelson #23 Will Nelson

Class: Junior
Position: SF
Height: 6’3″
Hometown: Kansas City, MO

Major: Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Jeremy Deemer #24 Jeremy Deemer

Class: Senior
Position: C
Height: 6’8″
Hometown: Kansas City, MO

Major: Economics and Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Garrett Schweighauser #25 Garrett Schwighauser

Class: Sophomore
Position: SF
Height: 6’4″
Hometown: Rockton, IL
Major: Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Orlando Gonzalez

#33 Orlando Gonzalez

Class: Freshman
Position: PF
Height: 6’6″
Hometown: St. Cloud, FL

Major: Undeclared

 

 

Photo of Alex Pena

#34 Alec Pena

Class: Junior
Position: C
Height: 6’7″
Hometown: Rockton, IL

Major: Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Brady McMains #50 Brady McMains

Class: Sophomore
Position: C
Height: 6’6″
Hometown: Pleasantville, IA

Major: Business Administration

 

 

Photo of Mo Jackson

RS Mo Jackson

Class: Senior
Position: PG
Height: 5’10”
Hometown: Belvidere, IL

Major: Sport Management

 

 

Coaching Staff

 

Craig DotyCraig Doty
Head Coach

Cory HoffCory Hoff
Associate Head Coach

AJ GordonAJ Gordon
Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator

Ben KluzakBen Kluzak
Head Student Assistant

Sam HarrisonSam Harrison
Assistant Coach / Head JV

Quentin CantyQuentin Canty
Graduate Assistant Coach

Frank CiminoFrank Cimino
Graduate Assistant Coach

Ron KellerRon Keller
Student Assistant

Teddy PalmerTeddy Palmer
Student Assistant

Ben GrygielBen Grygiel
Student Assistant

Dylan MartinDylan Martin
Student Assistant

 

I have had good experiences with some of the assistants of the mens’ basketball team–Ben Kluzak has really stood out in the classroom, taking initiative and being enthusiastic about learning; Ron Keller I just met in sports psych–impressed by his professionalism; same for Dylan Martin (sports psych); Teddy Palmer was an INTD student of mine a while back and a good team player in the classroom. Quality all through the staff.

– Dave Devonis, PhD
Professor of Psychology

Graceland men's basketball team wins the 2018 NAIA Division I National Championship
Two men's basketball players high-fiving on the court
LT Davis shoots a basket at the men's basketball NAIA Nationals tournament
Head coach Craig Doty runs through plays during a time out at the 2018 NAIA National Championships
The championship-winning three-pointer by Justin Harley at the 2018 NAIA Division I National Championships
The GU men's basketball team celebrates as they win the game that sends them to the final game of the 2018 NAIA National Championships

Award Recipients


Coach Doty and players were recognized for their outstanding performance — after a season of working together to overcome adversity and achieve victory.

National Tournament Honors

Photo of Graceland players Will Nelson, LT Davis, Jeremy Deemer

Left to right: Will Nelson, LT Davis, Jeremy Deemer

LT Davis, Jeremy Deemer and Will Nelson each made the 2018 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship All-Tournament Team. Davis was also named the Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player.


Nelson, a junior small forward, averaged 19.20 ppg in the tournament. The Kansas City, MO native averaged a career-high 30 points in the title game of the tournament. Nelson totaled 44 rebounds in the tournament to average 8.8 rpg.


Davis, a five-foot-11-inch guard from Rockford, IL, averaged 23.6 ppg. Known for his ability to hit the three, Davis shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.


Deemer, a senior center from Lamoni, IA, shot 61.4 percent (27-of-44) in the tournament. He averaged 13.8 ppg and recorded a double-double in all five games of the tournament.

All-Americans

Players were selected by the NAIA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America Committee. Graceland University’s LT Davis and Jeremy Deemer earned NAIA All-American recognition.

Davis was named to second team, while Deemer was honorable mention for the second time in his career. Since moving to NAIA Division I, Graceland now has a total of four men’s basketball players to receive the honor.

Scholar-Athlete

Jeremy Deemer was one of 63 NAIA Division I men’s basketball student-athletes to be named a Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the 2017-18 season.

In order to be nominated, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status to qualify for this honor.

Coach of the Year

Head Coach Craig Doty, his wife, Alexys, and son, Braylon

Just two years after being hired as head coach, Craig Doty put together the most historic season in Graceland’s basketball history. Doty has guided his teams to a national tournament appearance four out of the last five years, with three championship titles: 2014, 2016 and 2018. He highlights his appreciation for the support of his wife, Alexys, and son, Braylon, who have traveled the national championship road with him each time.

  • 2018 DON MEYER AWARD
  • 2018 NAIA NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
  • HOOPDIRT.COM 2017-18 NAIA NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR & COACH OF THE WEEK
    presented by Just Play Solutions

“Our commitment is to maintain a competitive men’s basketball program that is focused on recruiting, retaining and graduating the best student-athletes in the nation. Working together with Doty, we won a conference and national championship in only his second year.
As we move forward, there is confidence
that the future is bright.”

Scott Briell VP for Enrollment Management

 

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