Seven Michigan players are NAIA All-Americans

April 10, 2012 in NAIA

Top (L to R): James Humphrey, James Nelson, Chris Bellamy, Rocko Holmes; Bottom: Bobby Naubert, Javontae Ford, Wes Hudson.

By Patrick Hayes

Seven players from Michigan NAIA colleges earned spots on the NAIA Division II All-American team in March.

Davenport, which won Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles this season, led the way with three selections.

James Humphrey made the second team, the only Michigan player to do so. Humphrey, a senior forward from Ft. Wayne, Ind., averaged 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He set a school record with 65 blocks this season (he’s the school’s all-time blocks leader with 105 in his career) and was the conference defensive player of the year.

Humphrey started his college career at Missouri-Kansas City, but transferred to Davenport for his final two seasons. Humphrey’s leadership and unselfishness was praised by Davenport coach Burt Paddock in the team news release:

“(Humphrey) has been instrumental in our turnaround the last two years, said head coach Burt Paddock. He has been incredibly selfless for the betterment of the team. He could of scored many more points and played more minutes at other places. But, his willingness to be a part of a special TEAM was a true reason for our success.”

Becoming a father earlier this year also was an important development in Humphrey maturing as a person and a player. Brian Van Ochten profiled Humphrey for MLive in February:

It’s a quest that forced Humphrey, 23, to find a different balance in life.

He got a call on his cell phone Nov. 20 during a long bus ride back from a tournament in Pennsylvania telling him his girlfriend, Monaye Ramirez-Mondy, had been taken to Spectrum Health Downtown to give birth to their first child. His daughter ended up being born seven weeks premature.

Alyssa weighed just 3 pounds, 7 ounces at birth.

The 22-year-old Ramirez-Mondy, a Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School graduate, suffered some temporary complications during childbirth, but she and her daughter, who both attended Monday’s game, are doing well.

“It has focused me much more on and off the court,” Humphrey said of fatherhood. “I’ve just gotten so much support from the team, the fans, everyone here. I feel like we’ve been adopted by some of them.”

Teammate James Nelson, a senior guard who played at Detroit Country Day, was named to the third team. He averaged 16 points per game and is Davenport’s all-time leader in field goals made.

Nelson overcame a difficult childhood to excel in college basketball. From Van Ochten:

He has been the recipient of so much affection after a heartbreaking childhood.

His home since age 9 became older sister Joslyn Dilbert’s residence in New Haven following the passing of their mother, Lori Eileen Dilbert, from a battle with stomach cancer on her 35th birthday in 1999.

Nelson tried living with his estranged father, according to Van Ochten, but that didn’t work out. He was also close to an uncle, Lonnie, who passed away last year. Nelson also lived with the Dumars family for a while, as he was a teammate of Jordan Dumars (son of NBA Hall of Famer Joe Dumars) at Country Day. From Fox 17 News in West Michigan:

James lost his mother to stomach cancer at the age of 9. His sister, Joslyn, who was 20-years-old at the time, helped raise him. When James entered high school he became good friends with Jordan Dumars.

Dumars, is the son of legendary Pistons player and current Detroit General Manager, Joe Dumars.

James and Jordan became such good friends, the Dumars family offered for James to move in with them. It gave Joslyn a chance to raise her own family, and it gave James a chance to become a part of a key support group.

“I can’t even call it a blessing,” said Nelson. “It’s so much more than that. They have done so much for me.”

A third Panther, Javontae Ford, was an honorable mention. Ford, a sophomore forward from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, was second on the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game. He’s also a 3-point marksman — he set a school single season record with 86 3-pointers made this year.

Two non-Davenport players made the third team. Chris Bellamy, a junior guard from Novi, of Spring Arbor averaged 20.7 points and 2.2 assists per game this season. He improved his scoring average from his sophomore season by nearly 10 points per game.

Rocko Holmes, a bruising senior forward from Cadillac, led Concordia in scoring (18 points per game) and rebounding (10 points per game) this season.

Bobby Naubert, who played high school basketball for Livonia Stevenson, was an honorable mention. He’s a sophomore point guard at Madonna who set the school’s single season assists record with 199.

Wes Hudson of Cornerstone also was an honorable mention. Hudson, a sophomore who played at Wayland Union in high school, averaged 17 points per game this season.