Two Youngstown State University student-athletes earn Jambar Player of the Week honors this week.
Senior guard Ashen Ward helped the Penguins win two home games on Tuesday and Friday with a combined 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists and seven 3-point field goals.
He recently surpassed 100 career 3-point field goals and is two away from becoming 10th on the all-time YSU list.
“I wish that he had four years left,” head men’s basketball coach Jerry Slocum said. “He’s really having a leadership year for us. He has everybody’s ear, cares and has given a great investment to this year, and [he] is playing tremendously.”
Ward said he’s been practicing and focusing more on his defensive and driving ability in addition to his shooting.
“Being able to shoot makes me a threat, but to be able to put the ball on the floor, it makes not only me but my team [better],” Ward said.
Ward, a Cleveland native, attended Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School. He was named a third-team Division III All-Ohio selection and a McDonald’s All-American as a senior. As a junior, he was named the Division III Ohio Player of the Year and a first-team All-Ohio selection.
Ward started all but one game last year and led the team with 50 3-point field goals, the first Penguin to do so since Quin Humphrey in the 2006-2007 season. He is tied for eighth in the Horizon League with an average of 1.7 3-point field goals made per game.
While Ward earns his first Jambar Player of the Week award this season, sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess wins his third.
Hess threw for 298 yards and a school-record five touchdowns. He also committed no turnovers against Missouri State University on Saturday.
Despite a record-setting performance, the Penguins fell to the Bears, 38-34, within the last 10 seconds.
The Penguins finish the season 6-5 and were one win away from the playoffs. Hess said it was not a successful season.
“I’m sure he [head coach Eric Wolford] tells you all the time the standard is championship and making the playoffs and winning our conference,” Hess said. “We didn’t achieve our goals this year. I’m disappointed, but I’ll learn from it.”
Hess finishes the year with 186 completions, 2,460 yards, a school-record 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Hess also rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns.