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Steve Zieja '03
Zieja is just 337 points shy of becoming Amherst's all-time leading scorer

Zieja Named Preseason All-American by Street & Smith's College Basketball 2002

October 10, 2002

AMHERST, MA Amherst College senior tri-captain Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA/Hopkins Academy) was named an Honorable Mention NCAA Division III Preseason All-American by Street & Smith's College Basketball 2002 earlier this month. Zieja earned a wealth of postseason accolades following a standout junior campaign, including First-Team All-NESCAC, First-Team D3Hoops.com All-Northeast, First-Team All-ECAC, First-Team NABC All-District and Second-Team Verizon/CoSIDA Academic-All District.

He was one of two NESCAC players to garner Preseason All-America honors, along with fellow honorable mention selection Drew DeMuth, a senior forward at Williams College. Amherst isn't included in Street & Smith's preseason top-ten rankings, but is listed as a "Possible Breakthrough" team. Street & Smith's ranks Williams third overall despite falling to Amherst twice last season, including a 69-62 loss that eliminated them from the 2002 NESCAC Tournament.

Zieja who was also a Second-Team All-NESCAC pick as a sophomore paced the Jeffs and finished among the conference leaders in a bevy of statistical categories in 2001-02, finishing fourth in the NESCAC in scoring (18.2 ppg), fifth in free-throw shooting (79.3%) and eighth in rebounding (7.1 rpg). The 6'5" power forward cracked both the 1,000-point and 500-rebound career plateaus last winter and is rapidly climbing Amherst's all-time scoring list. His 1,213 career points are ninth all-time at Amherst, with the school record of 1,550 points - set by Jamal Wilson '97 - well within his reach.

Zieja played perhaps his finest basketball in the 2002 NESCAC Tournament, averaging 25.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in victories over Bowdoin, Williams and Trinity Colleges, earning NESCAC and ECAC Player of the Week honors for his efforts. In the championship game against top-seeded host Trinity, Zieja poured in a game-high 32 points, including 21 in the first half, scoring 10 straight during an early 17-6 Amherst run. He also posted a double-double 29-point, 10-rebound performance in the Jeffs' 71-61 quarterfinal win over Bowdoin, and added 14 points in a 69-62 semifinal win over Williams.

After winning the NESCAC Tournament and a second straight conference title, Amherst earned an automatic bid and one of 16 first-round byes in its third consecutive NCAA Tournament. Zieja was again stellar in the Jeff's 82-77 NCAA second-round win over visiting Western Connecticut State, torching the Colonials for a game-high 29 points and eight rebounds, narrowly missing out on his eighth double-double of the season.

Amherst then fell in the NCAA "Sweet 16" at SUNY Brockport, finishing its season with a 22-7 overall record and tying the 1993-94 and 2001-02 Jeffs for the most wins in school history. Amherst returns 13 players this season, including all five starters, and should be an early favorite to repeat as NESCAC Champions.