There’s some local flavor in DSU’s basketball recruiting

New England's Kaine Hanson, back, has already given a verbal commitment to the Dickinson State men's basketball team while New Town's Preston Smith, front, is on the team's radar. Hanson was the Region 7 Senior Athlete of the Year and Smith won Region 8's same award.

New England guard Nick Wolf, front, has verbaled to DSU along with his teammate and the hope of the players and coaching staff is that New Town's Preston Smith, back, does the same.

The Dickinson State men’s basketball team is looking to keep their recruiting efforts local as they begin their transition to the Frontier Conference.

Though head coach Ty Orton can’t comment on recruits who haven’t signed with DSU, the Blue Hawks have verbal commitments from standouts New England standouts Kaine Hanson and Nick Wolf.

Meanwhile, Ryan Sullivan and Josh Torgerson of Sidney, Mont., have made on-campus visits and on Wednesday Orton visited New Town all-state standout Preston Smith. The sentiment around DSU’s basketball department is that the team has a good shot at getting all three players here next year.

Already signed and in the mix for next season is Tyson Harding, a 6-4 forward from Bowman County High School who transferred from Dakota College at Bottineau. He will be a junior.

Hanson, a 6-foot-4 forward, averaged 17.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and was named Region 7 Senior Athlete of the Year.

Wolf, a 6-1 all-Region 7 guard, averaged 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4 steals and 2.6 assists. He is viewed by the Blue Hawks’ coaching staff as a solid defensive player — defense has always been top on-court priority for Orton — with his best years ahead of him.

Both New England players would likely redshirt their first year in an effort to help them transition from the North Dakota Class B level to the faster and more physical college game.

“I just hope I can get there, work hard and get some playing time and eventually move my way up over the years,” Hanson said.

Two of the potential recruits who haven’t committed yet would likely play immediately.

Smith, who is one of the most athletic players in the state if not THE most athletic, plays bigger than his 6-3 frame and is, physically, a college-ready player. The guard/forward averaged 20.3 points, 14.1 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 4.8 steals and 3.3 blocks per game for New Town as a senior and helped them finish third at the Class B state tournament as a junior.

Sullivan, a 6-3 small forward, is another player Orton believes could play immediately if he commits to the Blue Hawks. He was a two-time Montana Class A all-state selection. He averaged 14.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals per game.

Torgerson averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals for the Eagles and as was selected to the Eastern A all-conference team. He’d likely redshirt.

Another out-of-state player on the cusp of signing with the Blue Hawks is Nate Brewer, a 6-4 forward from Denver’s Thomas Jefferson High School. I watched him play a pick-up game during his campus visit and he has good skills around the basket. He averaged 6.4 points and 6 rebounds per game for the Class 5A school.

This I know for sure: Brewer, Hanson and Wolf are all smart kids. Orton has long viewed strong academics as the foundation for his program. Watch a video with Brewer here, a Denver NBC news feature about Brewer’s late uncle and how he has been his team’s leader.

With Hanson and Wolf in the fold, the Blue Hawks will have a roster that should be very familiar to Southwest North Dakota fans.

The will have two players from Dickinson (senior guard John Hanstad and junior guard Robbie Morey), two from Bowman County (juniors Brock Boos and Harding) and senior Jarek Hansen, a Williston native.

DSU’s recruiting isn’t going to be solely local, however. Orton said the team will, as it always has, recruit junior college transfers. He said the team also has feelers out on NCAA Division I  and Division II transfers.

Hanson said the local flavor was one of the factors in his choosing DSU. He had also seen interest and made an on-campus visit to South Dakota Mines.

“It’s going to make it a lot easier,” Hanson said. “You’re going to know most of them (his teammates).”

As for some locals who got away? The Blue Hawks had shown a lot of interest in Mott-Regent center Nate Fries, Beach center Landon Lechler and Beulah guard Casey Duppong but Duppong and Fries have decided to go to Bismarck State (whether they’ll play basketball is uncertain) and Lechler is playing football at North Dakota State.

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