Former area standout Ringler concludes career at Grand Valley

ALLENDALE — Justin Ringler just kept getting better as a college basketball player.

The Reed City native ended his four-year career at Grand Valley State recently by being named to the second team All-Midwest Regional squad at the end of the season.

The 6-foot-4 senior forward topped the Lakers in points at 14.3 per game and in rebounds with 6.1 per outing. He also had 70 assists to lead the team. He led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists for the second straight season.

Ringler wound up as the only player in Grand Valley State history to pass 1,400 points, 700 rebounds and 300 assists. He’s No. 3 all-time in school history in free throws made with 427, seventh in both scoring with 1,499 points and steals with 160 and eighth in assists at 303 and ninth in rebounds in 734.

Grand Valley finished at 19-8 overall and 14-6 in the GLIAC.

“It’s just unfortunate he wasn’t able to play in the NCAA tournament for his senior season,” said Grand Valley coach Ric Wesley.

“Looking back, I was happy with our season, but the way we finished and some of the ups and downs we went on, I wasn’t as satisfied as I thought it could have been,” Ringler said. “We had some losses with injuries and ups and downs but responded well to those things. I’m proud of some of the things we accomplished but feel maybe we could have played better at certain times.”

Highlights for the season included victories over Findlay and Great Lakes Conference champion Ferris State, plus sweeping the Upper Peninsula teams.

“That’s one of the things we hadn’t done in the last two years,” Ringler said.

On the court, his role didn’t change too much, Ringler indicated.

“It was pretty similar to what it’s been the past couple of years,” he said. “But as far as trying to take more of a leadership role as a senior and fifth-year player and give more direction to the team that was an area I had to improve on and provide more leadership.

“From start to finish, this was my most consistent year. The beginning of last year, I was probably playing the best I’ve played. Then I kind of faded a bit as the season went on. From start to finish, this was probably my most consistent year of playing a high level of basketball. I felt that I shot the 3-points a lot better. Just analyzing the game and seeing who was going to be open before they were getting open and making the right decisions on what to do with the ball and where we need to go with the ball at certain times ... I felt I took a step forward at that time.”

Looking back, as he graduated from high school and pursued a college basketball career, Ringler figures that he “exceeded my expectations. Coming in, I knew the program was in a good position and was doing well. I didn’t know what my role would be. I wanted an opportunity and whatever happened would happen. I accomplished everything I could have hoped to accomplish. I was hoping for a chance to play.”

In Ringler’s first three seasons, the Lakers had qualified for the NCAA tournament.

“It was definitely disappointing not making it back to the NCAA tournament,” he said. “We had a very similar team to last year when we made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. To come back and not qualify and not feel we left our best effort out was disappointing. We didn’t do enough things to deserve to play in it.”

Ringler has a year left to graduate with a finance and accounting degree.

“I’m not sure what the future holds,” he said. “I’ll finish with my degree and then we’ll see. I’m excited.”

As for basketball, “I considered possibly playing overseas,” Ringler said. “It’s something I thought about my whole time here. I’m definitely going to stay and get my degree. I’m sure I’ll still play in some summer leagues, open gyms and things like that.”

A four-year varsity player at Grand Valley, Ringler was a McDonald’s All-American nominee as a senior and an all-stater. The Coyotes were 41-6 in the last two years of his prep career. He redshirted his first year at Grand Valley.