GREENVILLE – Greenville senior Aaron Rich committed on Monday to play basketball at Bluffton University where he hopes to become an NCAA Division III all-American.
Rich, the son of Bonita Rich and the late Dennis Rich, said he’s excited to continue his basketball career in college and thanked Greenville coach Kyle Joseph for helping him reach this level.
“It’s a great feeling,” Rich said. “Not a lot of kids around here get to experience that in this kind of way. I had a really good coach this year, helped me improve a lot, and I just can’t thank him enough. It’s a great experience.”
At Bluffton Rich will play for Coach Guy Neal, whom Joseph is familiar with from his time at the University of Akron.
“Just really happy for him and proud of him for the work he’s put in to get to this point,” Joseph said of Rich’s commitment. “Coach Neal at Bluffton, I worked with his son as a grad assistant at Akron so I know he’s going to a really good coach there. I think he’s going to be able to do some great things for them at Bluffton.”
With Bluffton, Rich said, he found a good fit for himself.
“I fit in really well there,” he said. “The coach is a great guy, and I got along with the teammates really well. And they’re building a program that I think can win a championship in the next couple years. I think I can help them with it.”
Bluffton competes in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with Anderson University, Defiance College, Earlham College, Franklin College, Hanover College, Manchester University, Mount St. Joseph University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Transylvania University.
There’s some strong teams in the league, but Rich thinks the Beavers can contend for the conference championship in the near future.
“They’re all great schools and great competition,” Rich said. “I think they’re a great group of guys up there now. I think we can win a championship.”
Along with wanting to win a championship, Rich is hoping to find individual success as well.
“Coach Joseph has this goal with me,” Rich said, “he wants me to be a Division III all-American. I say anything is possible if I set my mind to it, and I’m going to work really hard to achieve it.”
In the 6-foot 6-inch Rich, Joseph sees a player that can present a lot of problems for opponents.
“He’s very skilled,” Joseph said. “He can drive it, he can post up, he can shoot, he can find his teammates and is a great team player.
“Especially I think at the Division III level he’ll really be a matchup nightmare because he can play on the perimeter as well as their guards can, and he’s still going to be one of the bigger kids on the court and can really score it on the low block, too.”
Bluffton plans to use Rich as a stretch four, he said, which is a power forward who can play on the perimeter, handle the ball and shoot some outside shots.
This past season Rich averaged 15.6 points per game and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game for Greenville. He also had 1.5 assists a game and was named second team all-American League by the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
“I told Coach Neal, I said, ‘From the time our season ended until now, he’s continued to improve tremendously,’” Joseph said. “I think he’s going to keep doing that.”
Rich plans to study sports management and marketing at Bluffton. He also plans to minor in coaching.
“I love sports, and I want to coach something after I get out of college,” Rich said.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.