DeWitt ready for big things at Greenville College

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 4, 2013 

Before his sophomore season at Clackamas Community College, former Lynden standout Jake DeWitt was talking to a number of four-year programs, including Grand View College in Des Moines, Iowa, Linfield College and Cabrini College near Philadelphia.

But after an injury-filled season, DeWitt was worried that he might have missed his chance.

"In retrospect, I started to wonder if maybe I should have redshirted my sophomore season or signed with somebody earlier," he said in a phone interview.

But it was at about that time that Greenville (Ill.) College, an NCAA Division III school in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, stepped to the forefront, and DeWitt earned enough academic scholarships to allow him to sign with the Panthers.

"Jake was a player that we targeted very early as our top transfer recruit at his position," Greenville coach Dr. George Barber said in a press release. "He is a great fit in every regard. Off the court, he carries a near perfect GPA and is an excellent student. On the court, he is a versatile guard that can score from anywhere on the court and guard the other team's best perimeter player. More than that, Jake is a great teammate, an extremely hard worker and a humble person. Jake is a big addition for us, and will be a key piece of our backcourt for the next two years."

The Panthers went 9-16 overall last year and finished sixth in SLIAC standings, but DeWitt should immediately help them on the wing.

The 6-foot-2 guard said he already feels like he fits in with the Panthers.

"They sold me on the philosophy of the team," DeWitt said. "They take a lot of team-building trips and stuff to help build relationships. From the second I got there, I felt at home. I felt like I had known the guys forever, even though I had just met them."

DeWitt said he also feels healthy, which is a huge benefit after he struggled through the 2012-13 season at Clackamas.

DeWitt played mostly point guard for the Cougars as a freshman and helped lead them to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Tournament while being selected to the conference's first-team all-freshman team.

But at some point during the season, DeWitt said he tore the meniscus in his knee - an injury that went undiagnosed until an MRI in August. He had surgery to repair the knee on Aug. 20 and was just starting to walk by the time classes started in September.

"I didn't get to start the season at full strength, and then during our league opener, I rolled my ankle and had to sit out again," DeWitt said. "It wasn't anything major, but all these little things I had to play through."

DeWitt, who moved to the off-guard position as a sophomore, still managed to average 5.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.6 steals through 28 games. He also was selected to the NWAACC all-defensive team.

"I think we actually had a better team my sophomore year, but we got off to such a slow start," DeWitt said. "We actually had to win like seven straight games just to get in position to go to the (NWAACC) Tournament, and we did it. We didn't end up placing that year, but to finish like we did to get in there was pretty memorable."

After the season, DeWitt said he took a week or two off and then hit the weights hard to strengthen his knee before he even started to work with the ball.

He's since added basketball-related workouts, and the progress is already showing.

"I'm playing so much better now than I was during the season," DeWitt said. "Coach got me into an open gym, and he noticed it right away. He said I wasn't the same player I was as I am now. I'm healthy now. I still hear some clicks and pops in my knee, but it is so much stronger than it's been in a number of years."

DeWitt said he'll likely major in education but would also like to continue to study Spanish, a language he started to learn while at Clackamas.

DHANANI MAKING IMPACT

Though his average has dipped just a little bit from his scorching .390 start with the San Rafael Pacifics, Kyle Dhanani (Blaine) still entered Wednesday, July 3, second in the independent Pacific Association hitting .346 (37 for 107).

The third baseman also has 25 runs scored, four homers and 16 RBI in 26 games this year.

"He was a player that we didn't know we were going to have on the team early," manager Ryan Priddy told the Marin Independent Journal. "Everything he's doing right now is a bonus."

That includes in the field, where Dhanani has routinely flashed outstanding leather.

"When I'm not swinging well, which was kind of this last week, I just make sure I stay in the game defensively, help out the team as much as possible," Dhanani told the Independent Journal. "I just want to do my part everywhere I can."

Dhanani entered the year expecting to play for the now defunct Edmonton Capitals. But after the team folded, manager Orv Franchuck offered to help him find a new club.

He received an invitation to the Pacifics' spring training session and earned a spot on the club. He's help San Rafael move 21/2 up in the Pacific Association standings with a 22-6 record entering Wednesday.

"It's a great group of guys," Dhanani said. "It's good to play with them, it's fun to play with them. They don't put too much pressure on you so it's easy to go out there and play every day."

PACIOREK ACTIVATED FROM DL

The Huntsville Stars - the Milwaukee Brewers' Class AA affiliate in the Southern League - activated catcher Joey Paciorek (Blaine) from the disabled list on Wednesday.

Paciorek, 24, is hitting .250 (9 for 36) in 16 games this season. He's also played eight games at Class AAA Nashville, where he hit .071 (1 for 14).

GEBHARDT REBOUNDS NICELY

Professional golfer Jessi Gebhardt (Bellingham) ended up finishing tied for 16th on June 24 at the Symetra Tour's Four Winds Invitational in South, Bend, Ind.

Getting there wasn't as easy as it might sound, though.

Gebhardt opened with a 7-over 79 in the first round and was tied for 138th. She rebounded to play 11-under in the final two rounds.

"Who does that?" Gebhardt joked on her website (jessigebhardt.com).

Gebhardt did by shooting a 9-under 63 and a 2-under 70 to finish.

To report a former Whatcom County athlete's success, email david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2286.

Reach DAVID RASBACH at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2271.

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