FARGO — North Dakota State head men’s basketball coach Dave Richman says this summer may not be the most fun for his players, considering the social distance guidelines with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the standpoint of running out to the lakes or being downtown and doing those things,” he said. “We want them to be college kids but to be smart with that.”
In the case of point guard Donald Carter III, his summer has another hurdle: overcoming a broken bone in his lower leg. The incoming recruit from Scottsdale Community College (Ariz.) was injured working out while he was back home in Minneapolis.
The hope, Richman said, is he’ll be back to full strength by the time practice begins in October. Meanwhile, Carter will miss some crucial off-season adapting time to the Division I game and new teammates.
“Clearly,” Richman said. “A big part of what we’ve been able to do the last six years and particularly the last two years is because of our toughness and togetherness and that starts in the offseason. And especially for a new guy coming in to adapt to our culture and the way we do things.”
Carter will still be with the team throughout the summer working with the NDSU training staff. He’ll be able to work on upper body strength.
Carter is expected to be the top pick to replace standout point guard Vinnie Shahid, who like Carter was a JC transfer. Carter had the all-around game at Scottsdale averaging 12 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds last season. He had similar numbers as a freshman.
But Shahid proved that even the best of recruits can have a tough time adjusting to another level of basketball.
It wasn’t until about halfway through his junior year that he asserted himself as one of the top guards in the Summit League.
“You look at Vinnie at the start of his career, it wasn’t the Vinnie we all knew at the end,” Richman said. “JC players come in more experienced and have a better understanding than high school kids but it’s still an adjustment.”
With Carter out, incoming true freshman Dezmond McKinney from Raytown, Mo., will get his chances at point guard in offseason drills. He averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds as a senior for a team that went 25-3 and advanced to the state semifinals before the pandemic canceled the tournament.
“We’re excited about Dezmond, he brings a different level of athleticism to us,” Richman said. “He’s a great kid with a big-time personality. I like it. In college basketball you have new faces and you work those guys in. I know we have talent and experience in other places and we have to continue to raise their level of play.”
Richman threw out the name of one of his experienced players as a potential part-time point guard: Junior Sam Griesel.
“He hasn’t played the point but he has some versatility to his game,” Richman said.
The Bison are halfway through their second week of returning to campus for voluntary workouts. Richman said so far, so good when it comes to dealing with all the details that come with dealing with the coronavirus.
He said having the NDSU staff working with the players is big for preventative measures. No players have experienced symptoms and nobody has tested positive, Richman said.
“These guys are basketball players, college kids, and they’re going to find games and workout places,” he said. “So for us to have the facility, we can control that as much as we can and that’s beneficial.”