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Dakota Wesleyan University junior forward Jalen Voss goes up for a shot during a Great Plains Athletic Conference men’s basketball game against Hastings in January at the Corn Palace. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

Voss averaging 20.6 as Tigers begin GPAC tourney

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Voss averaging 20.6 as Tigers begin GPAC tourney
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Adjusting to a new coach and being the only inside threat for his team this season has not derailed the junior campaign of Jalen Voss.

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The Dakota Wesleyan University standout has propelled the Tigers beyond the limited preseason expectations to a 17-13 regular season and 10-10 record in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

“He hasn’t had a bad day for us,” DWU first-year coach Matt Wilber said. “I’m smart enough to know that when you have a guy like that, it will make your job as a coach a lot easier.”

Voss and the Tigers play the first round of the GPAC tournament against Midland University at 7 p.m. today in Fremont, Neb.

The Worthington, Minn., native is averaging 20.62 points per game this season, which is good enough for 19th in the NAIA Division II and second in the GPAC. He is also pulling down 7.21 rebounds per game, which is third in the GPAC. Voss’ scoring is up from 14.2 points he averaged as a junior.

DWU has adopted a fast-paced offense in Wilber’s first season, where outside shooters such as Trae Bergh, Kris Menning and Jade Miller put up three-pointers at will and the first open look is often taken. But Wilber knows that Voss is the element that makes the DWU offense go, and the team looks to get the ball inside to him whenever possible.

“The great outside shooting really opens a lot of things up for me and causes a lot of problems for the teams we play,” Voss said. “The offense we run with coach Wilber is open and it frees the guys on the team up to do what they do best.”

The Tigers are far and away the most reliant team in the GPAC on the three, with conference highs as a team of 289 makes on 792 attempts from three-point range.

While long-range shooting is not a preference for Voss, he is not shy about stepping out and hitting a 3-pointer when it’s open. He is 8-of-33 from beyond the arc this season.

The up-and-down tempo of the Tiger offense has required Voss to work on conditioning to continually get down the floor.

“Everyone around this program who knows Jalen has seen what he has done in the offseason and in the weight room to get ready,” Wilber said.

Voss recently set a career high with 34 points in an upset on the road over No. 13 Hastings College where he was 13-of-19 from the field.

Staying on the floor early in the season was a struggle for Voss, as he was forced to the bench with early foul trouble. He has worked to stay in control on defense, according to Wilber, and is third best in the GPAC with 1.2 blocks per game.

“He deserves all the credit for getting better on the defensive end for us,” Wilber said of Voss. “When you are a big man, any small bump is going to get called. He is limited taking chances on a block or rebound that is unneeded so he can stay out there. At times, he will play 18 minutes or more in the second half of games and that is unheard of for a big man.”

The all-conference and All-American honorable mention from one year ago should be in line for more awards this year as he seems a lock for a spot on the all-GPAC team and could get consideration as conference player of the year.