For the second year in a row, Olivet senior Aaron Larson was named to National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic (NAIA) 2015-16 Division II Men’s Basketball All-American Second Team. He is the fourth Tiger to be named as an All-American in back-to- back seasons.
“There is a lot within Aaron Larson,” Head Coach Ralph Hodge said. “He’s been one of the most coachable kids we’ve had in the program over the years and one of the hardest workers we’ve had. It has served him well in his development because he did not come in as the most talented player we have ever had. He is the type of player who expected more from himself than even coaches did. If he missed a shot, he took the blame and never made excuses. He was highly accountable for what he was supposed to do, and that has helped make him the great player that he is. Effort plus time has equaled his reward.”
Larson had an astounding season, leading ONU in minutes per game at 35.3, points per game at 22.6 and rebounders per game at 9.5. In addition, he tallied 15 double-doubles, seventh-most in the NAIA this season.
Larson helped lead the Tigers to an 18-11 overall record, including a 17-4 record in CCAC play. Two personal single-game highs were either tied or broken by Larson this season. On Jan. 20, 2016, he scored a career-high 35 points in a 74-64 victory against Holy Cross College. In a 86-64 victory over Cardinal Stritch University on Jan. 30, 2016, he tied a career-high 17 rebounds.
“Aaron has expressed a high interest in continuing to play,” said assistant coach Nick Birkey. “He wants to pursue the professional ranks. He has continued to work out, play, and get stronger. He has a lot of tools that are needed to succeed at that level. But I
think he understands that he has to get better. If Aaron will continue to press forward and show that work ethic, I think that he can play for somebody professionally. There’s somebody out there who wants someone who is willing to work and get better. And I think Aaron has those capabilities.”
This season caps off an outstanding career for Larson. Over his four years at Olivet, he tallied 2,132 points, third most all-time for Tiger basketball players. He is fourth all-time in rebounds for Olivet with 971. He is one of only two players in ONU history who scored more than 2,000 points and recorded over 900 rebounds. Larson also is third all-time in field goals made with 813 and field goals attempted with 1,518 and 16-most in three- pointers made with 141.
“I think whole team is owed thanks for my success, teammates and coaches,” Larson said. “Teammates in practice pushed me. It’s not a one man show out there. They made it a lot easier for me. Obviously the coaching staff for pushing me in practice and bringing me out for individual workouts. It was just a great experience to be able to improve over four years.”
Senior Alex Thorson, Larson’s roommate and teammate for all four years, spoke very highly of him. “We didn’t even know he was going to start when we freshman. But he got a chance to start one game that season, and he scored a double-double; and we were running around Chapman Hall chanting ‘Double-double!’”
With his collegiate career now over, Larson has started pursuing a professional career playing overseas. “I am in contact with a few agencies,” said Larson. “We’ll just see where it goes from there, but it’s definitely a possibility.”
“Not many people can say they played pro basketball,” Thorson said. “Even if he only plays a few years, it would still be a great opportunity.”
—Samuel Nichols, staff writer