BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College senior Matt Drahos (Wheeling, W.Va./John Marshall) continued a whirlwind season of awards and accolades when he was named an ESPN the Magazine’s First Team College Division Academic All-American.
The award is presented annually by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and puts Drahos in very exclusive company. He was one of just five players in all of NCAA Division II and III, as well as NAIA, to receive First Team College Division honors. He is also the first men’s basketball player in Bethany history to receive the nation’s most prestigious student-athlete award.
The good news doesn’t stop there however for the Drahos household and the Bison program. Also earning national honors was Mike Drahos (Wheeling, W.Va./John Marshall), who was selected Second Team Academic All-American, making him among the top 10 in the country recognized for their outstanding ability in the classroom, as much as on the basketball court.
The brothers earned the chance to be on the national ballot after being voted First Team Academic All-District II back on Feb. 9. With Matt being on First Team and Mike earning Second Team honors, Bethany was the only school in the College Division to have two players recognized. The only institution on the University teams to have two players honored was the University of Iowa, but both of their players were named Third Team.
“I remember back to the press conference when I was hired that one of the things I said I wanted here was for our players to have the opportunity to succeed academically and earn these type of awards,” said Bethany Head Coach Aaron Huffman. “Now four years later, for Matt to be recognized as one of the top five student-athletes in the nation and Mike to be in the top 10 is a tremendous accomplishment for them. It also says something about the type of student-athlete we want here in this program.”
Matt has been earning honors at a torrid pace throughout the year. Among the honors he earned included the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Player of the Year for the first time and First Team All-Conference for the third time. He was also named one of 10 finalists for the prestigious Jostens Trophy, which is presented annually to the national Player of the Year who also exemplifies the Division III philosophy of the well-rounded student-athlete.
In addition, both brothers were featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” segment in the Feb. 27th issue.
Both Matt and Mike have posted incredible numbers to earn this kind of national recognition. On the court, Matt was the PAC scoring champion with 22.8 points per game and led the circuit in field goal percentage (58.8). He was also ranked second in rebounding (8.3) and blocks (1.7) and seventh in free throw percentage (74.8).
Not only will Matt leave as the initial First Team Academic All-American in school history, he will also leave Bethany with his name atop numerous categories. He broke the Bison’s single-game scoring (49) and rebounding (26) records this year and also became Bethany’s all-time leading rebounder with 926 career boards. The 6-6 forward currently stands second in all-time scoring with 1,930 career points.
Matt’s numbers in the classroom are just as staggering. He has posted a 3.51 GPA as a Biology/Pre-Med major and made the Dean’s List four times. Matt is also a two-time member of the PAC Academic Honor Roll and is in the Beta Beta Beta Biology and Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Societies.
For Matt, earning all of his basketball awards are nice, but being recognized as an Academic All-American fulfills a goal.
“Earning this ranks right up there with all the other honors, if not surpasses them,” said Matt. “It has been a goal of mine and Mike’s to make Academic All-American because it is a national award and we are very proud to have reached that goal.”
Mike’s numbers are nearly right there with his brother’s. The 6-5 forward, who also earned his third First Team All-PAC accolade last week, was ranked in the top 10 in the PAC in seven different categories, including: first in rebounding (9.1), second in field goal percentage (58.7), third in assists (3.68) and three-point percentage (43.4), fourth in free throw percentage (83.6), fifth in scoring (18.0) and eighth in steals (1.64).
Career-wise, Mike, who was the two-time PAC Player of the Year prior to this season, is also right on his brother’s heels. He has 1,681 points, fourth all-time, and his 877 rebounds is third in Bethany history.
In the classroom, Mike may actually have a slight advantage on Matt. Mike’s GPA is a sterling 3.65 as a Psychology major and he is also a four-time Dean’s List member and two-time PAC Academic Honor Roll honoree. In addition, Mike belongs to the Psi Chi Psychology honor society.
As is the case with any brothers, there is always friendly competition. And while Matt may have a higher scoring average and Mike may have better rebounding numbers this year, the two may exchange as many barbs about their academic success as their hoops achievements.
“It’s not like we make fun of each other about it, but we do, in a brotherly way, like to remind each other who had the higher GPA one semester to another,” said Mike.
“We always have the argument about whose major is harder,” said Matt. “With how hard both of us work in the classroom, I think in some ways, it may be more competitive than anything we do on the basketball court.”
The academically competitive side of the twins is one that few rarely see, although Huffman has had the pleasure of being around it nearly every day for the last four years.
“What makes me happy to see them earn these type of awards is that is shows Matt and Mike in a light few get to see them in,” said Huffman. “Everyone sees them having 28 (points) and 11 (rebounds) after games, but they don’t see them going to class every day, even when we get back very early in the morning from a road game the night before. They don’t see the side of them that hasn’t missed practice in four years, unless it was for academic reasons.
“It’s that kind of discipline that leads to this kind of national award and hopefully Matt’s First Team honor, along with Mike’s recognition, will give us the kind of academic reputation we want,” said Huffman.
Once their four-year tenures at Bethany are over, both Drahos brothers will be looking to continue their education. Matt is looking into options of playing another year or two professionally before going back to grad school or even medical school. Mike’s future plans include finding a graduate program that will help him towards his future plans of having a career in the FBI.