By: Kash Blackwell
Justin Nafso, Rochester College’s starting point guard on the men’s basketball team, will take his playing experience with him as he prepares to become a dentist.
A senior interdisciplinary studies/pre-medicine major, Nafso said the college community has become like family to him. Describing himself as very shy and nervous when first coming to RC out of Walled Lake Central HIgh School, Nafso remembers incremental moments along the way that helped him gain more confidence.
Nafso remembered his breakout moment during his freshman year of basketball that made him feel he belonged. “During the exhibition game versus Division One Western Michigan, I was small and nervous and I was expected to play more than usual due to injuries to the starting point guard. Once the game started, I felt good and held my own and it was downhill from there.” He recorded a game high 24 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals.
This stellar game set him up for success on the basketball court. He was named first-team All Conference last year and first team All Defense in the WAC. He also received first team All American honors from the USCAA last year in addition to RC’s Student Athlete of the Year for his accomplishments on the court and in the classroom.
Nafso also led the 2018 squad to a USCAA national championship. He hit a buzzer beater with seconds on the clock in the semi-finals to help the team advance to the national championship game where the Warriors defeated Oakwood University.
“Justin is perhaps the most trustworthy player I’ve ever coached,” Men’s Basketball Coach Klint Pleasant said. “He is a coach on- and off-the-floor in our program. He is a top level basketball player and also a humble servant; that is a rare combination. He will have a game of 20 points and 6 assists and be banged-up and bruised, and yet will carry the uniforms to the bus. I try not to think about RC basketball without Justin. It will be a sad day. He has left his mark for decades to come and he will be missed.”
In addition to his success on the court, Nafso said RC has shaped him academically. He said he has really enjoyed working with Dr. Michael Muhitch, associate professor of chemistry, because of his fun teaching style and his method of making sure that students understand the material covered.
After graduating from RC in April, Nafso plans to enroll in dental school, which has been his lifelong goal because his closest uncle is a dentist. He hopes to stay in state at either University of Detroit Mercy or University of Michigan.
Nafso believes RC has shaped him both athletically and academically. “It has challenged me in ways I would’ve never thought. RC is a family all together and it has shaped me in that way to be more open to others.”