Swedes' hoop roster overflowing after 3 more signings

By Steve Sell
August 18, 2015

LINDSBORG — If sheer numbers were the basis for winning a KCAC basketball championship, Bethany College’s men would be the clear winner.

Veteran coach Clair Oleen, who already had announced a passel of signings this summer, added three more players to his roster on Monday. He already is welcoming back perhaps the top returning group in the KCAC and chances are great the Swedes will be picked No. 1 or 2 in the KCAC preseason polls.

Mike Sanchez, Joey Habtemariam and Jaylon Statewright are the latest to cast their lot with the Swedes.

"We are very pleased to have Mike Sanchez, Joey Habtemariam and Jaylon Statewright join Bethany basketball and get their education at Bethany College," Oleen said.

Sanchez, a 6-5 small forward all the way from Miami, transfers from Lewis and Clark Community College. He averaged 7 points and 3 rebounds, while shooting 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line.

"Mike comes to us from a very good basketball program at Lewis and Clark Community College where he has played against very high-level players and team's night in and night out,” Oleen said. “Mike fills our need of wanting to have one more long, athletic and experienced wing guard on our team.” 

Habtemariam, from Sioux Falls, S.D., transfers to Bethany from Northwestern College in Iowa. As a senior at Washington High School, he averaged 16 points a game and 5 assists. He averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds at Northwestern, and shot 85 percent from the free throw line, 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from behind the 3-point line. In high school he was first-team All-State, All-City and All-Conference his senior year. 

Habtemariam also was nominated for the South Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year and South Dakota's Mr. Basketball. Habtemariam has a 3.0 grade point average and plans to major in Sports Management and Athletic Administration while at Bethany. 

"Joey had an exceptional high school career before going to play at Northwestern College in Iowa for two years,” Oleen said. “He brings a lot of NAIA basketball experience. He is a good passer who plays with a high IQ. He has good ball-handling skills and shoots the ball well. We are excited about the great teammate that Joey is and how well he will blend right in with our great team chemistry."

Statewright is a 6-1 guard from Aurora, Colo. He prepped at Gateway High School and was a two-year starter. He averaged 10 points a game, 2 assists and 2 rebounds and shot better than 80 percent from the foul line. 

"Jaylon is a super young man who has a very supportive family who are also involved in athletics,” Oleen said. “He can shoot the ball and possesses athleticism to get out and play like the Swedes want to play.”