Everyone knows a team-orientated sport such as basketball requires a good performance from each team member. However, replacing NCCAA first team All-American Gage Ott, will be difficult.
The senior had the best season statistically in his four seasons at Bethel College. He currently ranks tenth all-time in NAIA division II for field goal percentage (0.616). He also earned a slew of awards for the season: NAIA second-team All-American, Crossroads League first-team, Crossroads All-Defensive team honors, NCCAA North Central Region MVP and first-team recognition. His season states included 16.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.9 blocks per game and shooting .600 from the field. He is one of only three players in the nation to reach those numbers.Ott touched on how his competitive drive has been his secret to success the past four seasons and he encouraged others to live life with a competitive edge also. Q: How has this season of basketball been different than previous seasons? A: This season has been different for me, personally, because I’m a senior. This was my first time as a team leader in my career at Bethel…It’s been different since Ryne [Lightfoot] is our new coach, taking over from his dad. He’s a lot more fast-paced. It’s just a change-up from what we’ve done in the past. Q: When did you first pick up the game of basketball? A: I first started playing basketball when I was in third game for the YMCA leagues and then, it carried on from there. I played on a AAU team, which I didn’t play on until I was in eighth grade because I wasn’t very good [until then]. My freshman year, I played on the A and B team of the Freshman team. That’s when I asked, “Are you going to be good at basketball or do you just want to be done with it?” That’s when I made the switch to really commit to basketball my freshman year. Q: Who do you look to for advice on the game? A: I look to my teammates because they’re always on the court with me. So, if I want to learn a new move, I’ll go up to Paul [Foreman] and say, “Hey man, I saw you do this in the game. Teach me how to do that.” Or I’ll go to my uncles because they’re big-time NBA fans. They watch all types of sports. They’re like, “Okay man, I saw you do this the other day and I want you to work on it. Do this, this and this.” Q: Why have you stuck with basketball after all these years? A: I stuck with it because I was good at it. I don’t like to perform poorly at anything I do. I used to play baseball and football. I cut them out completely just to focus on basketball. Once I started getting better, I thought, “This is something I want to do.” Hopefully, in the next couple of months I’ll be able to make money while I play. Q: What are some of your basketball philosophies? A: When it comes to playing on the court, even when it’s your friends, you’re not friends. I think that’s something that’s helped me over the years. I’m very competitive in everything I do. I think everyone should have that competitive edge, even if it’s just for a fun game because that’s what basketball is all about. There’s one winner and one loser. I’m not big on third, fourth [or] fifth place rewards. Q: Where are you going after Bethel? A: Right now, I have a couple camps lined up in [Las] Vegas. They’re European League combines and my plan is to go, do those [combines] in July and link up with Will Walker, a Bethel basketball [alumnus], Bethel College athletics Hall of Famer and current professional Euro basketball player. His agent and I are going to get in contact to hopefully get a contract overseas. The Beacon wishes Ott the best of luck in preparation for his European League combine. With Ott’s graduation, the Pilots will need a new face to look to as the leader. As always, keep on the look-out for more features of Bethel’s best athletes on the Bethel Beacon. (Photo credit: Bethel College Athletics)