ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — For Grand Valley State basketball player Jake Van Tubbergen, this time of the year was normally filled with the game he loves.
Whether it was playing towards making the Division II NCAA Tournament, working out with his teammates for the following season or watching March Madness on television, the orange rock was still the center of his life.
This year however, Van Tubbergen was in the basement of his parents’ home playing video games. Like many others, the junior forward was trying to find a way to pass the time in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the majority of the sports world put on pause.
It was the norm for Van Tubbergen for several days now. Then, he noticed his phone buzzing with one text after another.
The news he would receive was anything but normal.
“I had got a couple texts from even my coaches, and it took me a second to realize what it was,” Van Tubbergen said. “He sent me a link to a web page. It took a second to register.
“But when it did, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, is this happening?’”
The graduate from West Ottawa High School had just been named an All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in Division II in the 2019-20 season. The 16-player list is voted on by member coaches of Division II and was released on Tuesday.
Van Tubbergen is just one of two players (Kyle Monroe, Michigan Tech) to earn All-American ranks from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He is the first Laker to do so since 2007-08, when Callistus Eziukwu accomplished the achievement.
“I just have an accomplishing feeling,” Van Tubbergen said. “All of those days in the summer you wake up and just don’t want to work out for various reasons, some days are harder than others. This just shows it paid off in a way.”
The Holland native was having a stellar season, averaging a double-double per game at 18.4 points and 10 rebounds (the only player in the GLIAC to do so.) He ranked 14th nationally and led his league with 14 total double-doubles.
The numbers don’t stop there. Van Tubbergen’s scoring was fourth in the conference, while leading in rebounding and offensive rebounding (2.6 per game.) His 551 points was 10th and his 300 rebounds ranked eighth in program history. He started all 30 games for the Lakers.
With a senior campaign on the horizon, the forward has 1,282 points heading into the 2020-21 season.
“We didn’t make the tournament and we felt that we should have,” Van Tubbergen said. “After having a great season, it gives us motivation for next year. Because if we had a great season this year and didn’t get in, it kind of lays out our work for us on how much better we need to be to get in. In a way, it’s all motivation for us.”
Van Tubbergen and his team were ranked as highly as 11th in the country during the 2019-20 season.
However, right now, times are difficult. Normally the Lakers would all be together, already beginning to work out for the following season. Instead, the Michigan’s statewide stay-at-home order has the team off campus and back home to stay healthy.
With GVSU and every other school in the state suspending in-person classes, Van Tubbergen is wishing he was on campus with his team.
“There wasn’t a lot of food, there wasn’t much left to do (at GVSU), so they just kind of shut everything down,” Van Tubbergen said. “(The team) keeps in contact with each other because we all obviously are pretty close. Our mindset, right now, is to get the work in while you can while this is all going down, even if it isn’t normal.”
When Van Tubbergen gets back to GVSU, the first thing he wants to do is get back in the gym, working towards another season full of more accomplishments.