Columbus North graduate Tyler Greathouse plays a medium role as a big man for a small school basketball team.
He said that all the sizes fit him quite well.
Greathouse, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, helped his Indiana Wesleyan team to an NAIA Division II national championship that was capped March 18 with a 78-68 victory against Midland (Neb.) at the Keeter Gymnasium in Point Lookout, Mo.
Coming out of Columbus North in 2011, Greathouse had NCAA Division I offers but decided to play NAIA basketball.
“I wouldn’t choose any other place,” he said on a visit home to Columbus last weekend. “We have a special blend of guys at Indiana Wesleyan, and the coaches are amazing. The biggest thing is that I was looking for a Christian school.”
Greathouse averaged 7.9 minutes a game with the Wildcats, who won five games in six days at the national championship tournament. All five victories were by
10 points or more, the first time in the history of the tournament a team had been so dominant.
“Our school was on spring break the week before the tournament, so we had a good week of practice,” said Greathouse, who averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds a game. “We started clicking at the right time, but it definitely was a grind.”
Although Greathouse isn’t a starter at this point, he remains happy with his choice for college.
“My role is to bring energy off the bench,” he said. “I think I did that well. I rebound, and I can shoot well from the outside so it helps to spread the floor.”
If Greathouse gets a shot from the perimeter, he doesn’t think twice about firing.
“Coach (Greg Tonagel) has a lot of confidence in me,” he said.
Jason Speer used to be the coach with confidence in Greathouse.
“He was a major contributor for us,” Speer said. “He was a skilled big man, and I was sure he would fit into their scheme at Indiana Wesleyan. He helped us get things started early in my career (at North). He was what you would call a ‘stretch 4.’ He could step out and hit the outside shot.
“He was a soft-spoken kid who loved basketball. It was a dream of his to play college basketball.”
Greathouse said it is OK for athletes to live their dream at an NAIA school.
“Now people get caught up in playing (NCAA) Division I ball,” he said. “But any level you are playing college ball.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but there are a lot of big guys playing in NAIA, just like in Division I. It is very competitive.”
Tonagel, who took the Indiana Wesleyan head coaching job in 2005 at 24 years of age, has built a small school power.
Considering that the Wildcats are losing 6-foot-9 senior R.J. Mahurin, Greathouse might play a bigger role next season.
“He was a guy who could step out and shoot the ball, and that’s something I do well,” Greathouse said of Mahurin.
No matter what his role on the basketball court, Greathouse continues to make academics his top priority. He was one of 134 athletes across the nation honored as a NAIA Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete.
“It was a lot of hard work, but an awesome achievement,” said Greathouse, who carries a 3.6 grade-point average with majors in accounting and finance. “I knew I could achieve it.”
It’s the kind of numbers that make his parents, Stephanie and Mike Greathouse, proud.
They remain ecstatic over their son’s college choice.
“Oh my goodness, yes,” said his mom, Stephanie Greathouse. “We were pleased before (the national championship) happened. We knew that Tyler fell in love with the college.”