By the middle of December, he had already been selected the NCAA Division III Player of the Week and won back-to-back Capital Athletic Conference’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week honors.
He is leading the conference in steals per game and assists per game and is fourth in scoring average.
York College senior Jared Wagner has been one of the best players in the CAC this season and his efforts have seen his name climb near the top of a number of statistical categories in Spartans’ history. But for the 6-foot, 1-inch guard, the only numbers that matter are whether or not York College (8-2) scored more points than its opponent each night.
“It’s great for him, (but) I don’t think either one of us care right now,” York College coach Matt Hunter said. “Neither one of us are wired that way. It’s awesome. He’s going to accomplish a lot of awesome feats over the course of his career and his name is going to be all over the record book, but it doesn't get there without team success. He understands that he’s no more important than (his teammates) and that’s what makes Jared special.”
Hard work rewarded: After a standout career at Central York High School, where he eclipsed 1,000 points and was named to an all-state team, Wagner chose the Spartans because he wanted an opportunity to play early in his career and learn how to become a better player from Hunter and assistant coach Jon Showers.
“Every day I just showed up and fell in love with putting in the work,” Wagner said. “That’s something that coach Hunter talks about with everybody and that’s something I latched onto. Every day showing up for practice and putting in the extra work outside of practice — the extra lifts, extra skills workouts (and) extra film sessions.”
That type of determination is exactly what Hunter saw in his first impression of Wagner while in high school. He said he was always the ultimate competitor, and while he needed to be directed at times, the effort he gave is something that can’t be coached.
Wagner started 10 of the Spartans’ 27 games his freshman year and has started each game since his sophomore year. His senior year in high school, York College finished 10-15 and after his arrival on campus, the Spartans have won 17, 24 and 22 games, respectively.
Hunter said they anticipated Wagner would become an all-league caliber player and his hard work and preparation have made Wagner, Hunter and the team get better each season.
“If I am working really hard, I challenge the person next to me to work really hard and match my level of intensity and my level of commitment for the team,” Wagner said. “That’s what makes a great program and I think that’s what we’ve done here since I have gotten here.”
Raking in records: The extra effort has paid off for Wagner. Currently, he is two assists from tying Jeff Landis for second all-time in the category for his career (423) and six steals from passing Landis for the program record for career steals (243) that has stood since 1995.
On the season, Wagner is averaging career highs in points (15.9), assists (6.9), rebounds (5.8) and steals (3.1) per game.
In addition to steals and assists, Wagner sits at No. 21 all-time in points scored with 1,132 points. At his current per-game average, Wagner is on pace to finish his career top 10 in Spartans’ history.
Focused on team: Wagner doesn’t have time to focus on his personal achievements right now. His only goal is ending his career completing each team’s goal at the start of the season.
“It’s something that I have flushed out of my mind and I don’t like to talk about it to my friends,” Wagner said. “Whenever somebody brings it up to me, I try to just push it off and deflect it because it’s just not meaningful. Obviously, at the end of my career, I will look back on the success I individually had, but right now I just want to play at the national championships in April this year. That’s where we want to be and I want to be playing basketball for York College until April 7 and we’re driving back from Georgia as nationals champs.”
For Hunter, having a team captain and leader who works as hard as Wagner is invaluable. While he is proud of all that Wagner will have accomplished individually once his career ends, Hunter hopes he will be remembered for the things he brought to the program that can’t be found on a stat sheet or in any record books.
“I want it to have nothing to do with points scored, steals, assists, minutes played (or) games played,” Hunter said. “None of that matters. His legacy is being that competitor. That will be his lasting impact on our program.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.