MISHAWAKA – “It felt like home.”
For Clay Yeo, that was all that really had to be said upon walking into the Wiekamp Center. A former camper at Bethel College, Yeo spent a year playing for Valparaiso University and just felt out of place. Transferring to Bethel this fall, Yeo is not only more comfortable with his surroundings, but at peace mentally.
“I just want to come to practice, be normal,” Yeo said. “Not play for myself, but to play for my brothers and the guys next to me. I just want to play as hard as I can.”
Yeo, a standout at Triton High School, was flat out one of the best basketball players in the state of Indiana his senior season. Helping his team to the state title game, Yeo also garnered over a dozen state accolades and was named as an Honorable Mention McDonald’s All America. During his career at Triton, Yeo averaged 26 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game and graduated with 1,992 points, the most ever at Triton and for any player in Marshall County history.
While at Valparaiso, Yeo played in 28 games and averaged just over four points and one rebound per contest. His bookmark moment came in a SportsCenter Top 10 game-winning shot against Oakland Feb. 9.
Three members of the Northern Lakes Conference adorn the Pilots roster, notably the addition of NorthWood standout Will Stueve. Helping the Panthers to a sectional title, Stueve really blossomed his senior season, averaging 11 points per contest as well as being named to a host of local awards. The 6’7″ forward will add needed size to Bethel’s depth chart. Wiekamp is also home to Stueve, whose dad, Jeff, is a faculty member at Bethel.
“It’s not fake here, there is a real level of camaraderie here,” Stueve said. “My main role is to bring energy. One-hundred percent energy and give everything I can.”
Pilots head coach Mike Lightfoot, entering his 28th season at the helm, is looking forward to adding the two local products to a roster that was hit hard by the graduation of five seniors, but is coming off a Crossroads League title and an appearance in the NAIA Tournament.
“It’s good to have the two guys in the program,” Lightfoot said of Yeo and Stueve. “They make us bigger and stronger. The added dimension of local guys gives us a great blend of local talent with area talent. That really helps us.”
Also working for Bethel is Warsaw grad Jordyn Coon, who played in 23 games as a freshman in 2012-13, but missed last season and returns as a redshirt sophomore.
David Lee enters the 2014-15 season as a redshirt freshman. The 2013 Plymouth graduate averaged eight points, four rebounds and three steals his senior season of high school and adds to what will be solid guard play at Bethel.
Bethel will open play at the Maple City Hoopfest at Goshen College Oct. 31 against Northwest Ohio and Nov. 1 with Brescia University before hosting the Bethel College Classic Nov. 7-8, opening with Lawrence Tech.