Nanooks Men’s Basketball Retire Oleson’s Number 24

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 7:23 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - During halftime of Saturday’s Nanooks Men’s Basketball game versus Anchorage, Nanook Athletics took a moment to highlight their program’s leading scorer. North Pole’s, Brad Oleson, had his jersey number, 24, retired. Oleson played for the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 2002-05.

“It’s pretty special,” said Oleson. “Obviously, this doesn’t happen without good teammates and good coaches around me, not just in college, but growing up too. I’m honestly just thankful that I’ve been surrounded by good people my whole life.”

The season before Oleson transferred from Peninsula College to Alaska, the Nanooks went 4-23. The three seasons Oleson played, the Nanooks went 64-24. Over the course of his Nanooks career, Oleson brought a myriad of accomplishments, both individual and as a team.

In his first season, Oleson averaged 17.18 points per game. Oleson was the leader during Alaska’s Top of the World Tournament. Defeating, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nebraska, and Weber State, Alaska became the first DII team to win an eight-team tournament against all DI teams. The Nanooks 2002-03 season ended in the first round of the NCAA West Region at the hands of Cal Poly Pomona.

During the 2003-04 season, Oleson won his first GNAC Player of the Year awards, averaging 22.86 points. As a team, the Nanooks made back-to-back NCAA DII tournaments. Instead of losing in the first round, Oleson led Alaska to the Sweet 16 with wins over Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State San Bernardino. The season would end there, losing to Humboldt State.

As time went on, Oleson only got better. In his final season (2004-05), he won GNAC Player of the Year in consecutive years. Oleson averaged 24.43 points per game, and led the Nanooks back to the Sweet 16.

Over the course of three seasons, Oleson became the program’s leading scorer with 1,883 points. He also set a new GNAC record for nine, weekly conference honors. That record still stands.

“This is another moment I can celebrate with everyone, and coming from Fairbanks, there’s been a lot of people that came up to me talking about twenty years ago,” Oleson explained. “It’s really special because those are great memories that I have, but it’s really cool to see and share them with other people.”

College did not mark the end of Oleson’s basketball career. He played professionally from 2005-2020. Over that time, he won four championships in three different professional leagues.

“I’ve had a few years to reflect now about my career. It’s good and this has been another way to celebrate my career and look back and truly see how special it was,” Oleson added.

Following retirement from his professional career, Oleson has returned to Fairbanks. He is the second player in Nanooks Men’s Basketball to have his jersey number retired, joining Milo Griffin who had his number, 44, retired in 2006.

“It goes beyond basketball... those three especially Coach (Kevin) McHenry, Coach (Frank) Ostanik, and Coach (Al) Sokaitis have been big in my life as far as molding me into the person and player I was,” Oleson stated.