FARGO — Say this about the North Dakota State men’s basketball recruiting budget these days: It’s gotten less expensive.
The Bison made it official on Thursday with Moorhead High’s Maleeck Harden-Hayes, who signed his letter of intent and will enroll at NDSU next fall. The 6-foot-6 guard joins Noah Christensen from Breckenridge, Minn., in the incoming 2019 freshman class.
NDSU also has a verbal commitment from junior Boden Skunberg from Jamestown, N.D. After a brief drought of area Division I prospects, NDSU is finding some talent within a reasonable driving distance again.
“I think it’s a combination of everything,” said NDSU head coach Dave Richman. “I think the basketball is getting significantly better and some of the club programs and summer programs are doing a good job of getting their kids exposure.”
Congrats to @MaleeckH for making it official this morning, signing with @NDSUmbb to continue his basketball journey. Very proud of the young man you’ve become and we’re excited for your continued growth ahead. Contribute your enthusiasm each day!! #SpudsWay pic.twitter.com/rSqx4xQ29O
Congrats to @MaleeckH for making it official this morning, signing with @NDSUmbb to continue his basketball journey. Very proud of the young man you’ve become and we’re excited for your continued growth ahead. Contribute your enthusiasm each day!! #SpudsWay pic.twitter.com/rSqx4xQ29O— SpudBasketball (@MHDSpudBBall) April 25, 2019
Harden-Hayes had career high school numbers of 1,148 points and 458 rebounds. He shot 52 percent from the floor. Considering NDSU returns nearly its entire roster from last season’s Summit League title team that won a game in the NCAA tournament, it may be a safe assumption that Harden-Hayes will redshirt next season.
“That said, the last thing I’m going to do is cross a name off the active list right now,” Richman said.
He did say Harden-Hayes will need to add some strength and weight, however.
“Obviously his length and athleticism is what stands out right away,” Richman said. “I think it’s important to have some perspective. I think Maleeck’s best basketball is down the road, but he’s a great kid from right across the river and it’s a no-brainer for us.”
NDSU still has one scholarship remaining for next season. With the departure of 6-8 junior forward Deng Geu via the NCAA graduate transfer rule, NDSU will most likely sign an inside player.
Harden-Hayes will be the first NDSU player from Moorhead since guard Jim Argent, who played from 1993-96. The last metro player was guard A.J. Jacobson from Fargo Shanley, who finished his career two years ago.
“I think when you look at the successful teams, not just this year but past Bison teams,” Richman said, “They’ve been Upper Midwest kids who understand the climate, the environment and the culture that we have.”