Jaelen House, Jack Gohlke embrace ‘March Madness’ experience at NABC College All-Star Game

Former ASU guard Jaelen House, left and Tyler Thomas battle for the ball in the NABC College All-Star Game at State Farm Stadium Friday. (Photo courtesy of NABC)

GLENDALE – Twenty senior standouts played their final collegiate game at the Reese’s NABC All-Star Game in State Farm Stadium Friday. Stars who fell short in March earned the opportunity to compete on the same court as the Men’s Final Four teams.

Athletes were divided into teams of 10. The West, coached by University of San Diego’s Steve Lavin, beat the East, coached by Oakland’s Greg Kampe 87-75. New Mexico guard Jaelen House, who previously play at Shadow Mountain High School and Arizona State, took home MVP honors with a game-high 16 points for the winning team.

Including House, the game featured several players featured in the NCAA tournament. Grand Canyon forward Gabe McGlothan, Washington State forward Isaac Jones and Oakland guard Jack Gohlke were the only players to win a game.

Although it was recognition for the players’ strong individual seasons, the game did not quite reflect it. The teams shot a combined 38% from the field and 21% from 3-point range.

The dimensions of football stadiums tend to affect players’ shooting accuracy and this game was no different.

“I think you could tell by the way everyone played that we weren’t exactly used to playing in a big football stadium like this,” said Gohlke, a March Madness breakout star, “But it’s so cool to experience it so I’m glad it happened.”

Although Gohlke, a career 38% 3-point shooter, struggled in the game, he appreciated the experience.

“Nineteen other really good players and to play in this atmosphere, on this stage, the Final Four, it’s super cool to be here and all these events going on,” Gohlke said.

Gohlke’s popularity skyrocketed after a 32-point, 10 3-pointers performance in an upset win over No. 3 seed Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Despite Oakland falling to N.C. State in overtime in the Round of 32, Gohlke has remained a household name.

“Just really appreciative for all the opportunities and just trying to soak it all in,” he said. “It’s been a ton of fun and a whole new experience.”

Along with Nebraska star Keisei Tominaga, the sharpshooters fully embraced their stardom Friday, taking part in shooting contests and signing autographs for fans. Both players also participated in the Men’s 3-Point Championship Thursday night, with Tominaga winning on a highlight-worthy buzzer beater.

“I’m so fortunate to be invited to the All-Star Game here,” Tominaga said. “My last college game to play at this Final Four arena, it’s amazing.

Tominaga led Nebraska to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2014. The Japan native averaged 15.1 points per game and shot 37.6% from 3-point range this season.

Even though Nebraska lost its first game of the tournament, Tominaga said it was a great experience, especially the fan support.

“A lot of fans came all the way out to Memphis to support us,” Tominaga said. “That was a great feeling for us.”

Another standout on the West’s winning squad was McGlothan, who led the team with nine rebounds. McGlothan was the only player from an Arizona school featured in the game. He also captured an individual competition Thursday, winning the Slam Dunk Championship.

“Going through this college journey, I never thought it would end up here and playing on the Final Four court,” McGlothan said. “Not necessarily the way I envisioned it, but it’s just cool how it works out.”

Like Gohlke, McGlothan’s GCU team pulled an upset in the Round of 64, beating No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s. Although the Lopes lost a tight battle to Alabama in the next round, the program is headed in a positive direction after their third appearance in four years.

The success was reflected by the fans, who showed out for both tournament games. For McGlothan, the experience was a dream come true.

“March is just a whole different month for college basketball, so being able to get that win, great history for the team, for the program, and for the school,” McGlothan said. “And to be able to let that little kid that always grew up watching it live it out.”

March Madness grants opportunities and experiences to players across the country. And as the careers of these players come to a close, Friday granted one more.

Brevan Branscum(he/him/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Brevan Branscum expects to graduate in May 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism.