Central's Beitinger Named GNAC Newcomer of the Year - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Central's Beitinger Named GNAC Newcomer of the Year

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SPOKANE, Wash - Central Washington University junior Jake Beitinger has been named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year for men's basketball, the conference office announced on Monday.

In addition to his recognition as the league's top newcomer, Beitinger was one of two unanimous first team all-GNAC selections. Teammates Matt Penoncello (Moscow, Idaho) and Nate Jackson (Seattle, Wash./Cleveland HS) were named to the all-conference second team.

Beitinger is the top scorer and rebounder for a Wildcat team that finished the regular season with a 21-6 overall record and a 15-3 GNAC mark. He averaged 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a 6-foot-8 forward/center for CWU. He is just the third Central player in the seven-year history of the conference to receive first-team all-conference honors, joining Justin Thompson (2001-02) and Lance Den Boer (2006-07).

Penoncello, who earlier Monday was also named the conference's co-Player of the Week, was the only Central Washington player to start all 27 games during the regular season. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, and is coming off a career-high 34-point scoring effort in Saturday's season finale.

Jackson, the Wildcats' senior point guard, has had a career season in 2007-08 with 12.4 points per game and team-leading totals of 77 assists and 44 steals. He also finished the regular season shooting 53.2 percent from the floor and ranking second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in steals per game.

Both the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year represented league champion Alaska Anchorage, which hosts this weekend's NCAA Division II West Region tournament. Senior point guard Luke Cooper and Seawolves' head coach Rusty Osborne received the top honors. Blake Poole of Saint Martin's and Dane Johnson of Western Oregon shared Freshman of the Year accolades from the GNAC.

Central Washington, which posted its highest single-season win total since 1999-2000 with its 21-6 regular season mark, will take part in the 2008 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship beginning this Friday (Mar. 14) in Anchorage, Alaska. The Wildcats, seeded fourth in the eight-team regional, will face conference rival Seattle Pacific (20-7) at 5:30 p.m. ADT (6:30 p.m. PDT) on Friday.