FARGO — The bummer news for North Dakota State is the Bison will have to watch the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament knowing it came a hair short from making the Big Dance. The good news is NDSU returns its entire roster next season with the promise of a loaded team.
The predictable news is a few players entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Four backups may be looking for new homes in the next few months. Guards Donald Carter III and Jaxon Knotek, and centers Odell Wilson and Tyler Witz all gave notice of their intentions to transfer.
All four cited playing time as a reason.
“What I want to be careful of is at the end of the day, college basketball is a business and I don’t want to feel like it’s a business,” said NDSU head coach Dave Richman. “Part of our success is being candid and honest. We have authentic conversations with our guys, where you are at and where we see you in the future.”
Carter III, Knotek and Wilson most likely will look for another school. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Witz, a senior who has one more year of eligibility because the pandemic erased this season as a counter.
Knotek played the most minutes at 11.4 per game. He averaged 4.4 points. Wilson came on in the last month of the season for some key contributions. Carter III, a junior college transfer in his first year at NDSU, spent most of the season rehabilitating a broken leg and played in just two games.
The four entering the portal are the most the Bison have had after one season, although the pandemic played a role in that because of the extra year of eligibility.
“I think this year is an overflowing version of it,” Richman said.
The Bison will return all five starters in Rocky Kreuser, Tyree Eady, Jarius Cook, Sam Griesel and Maleeck Harden-Hayes, in addition to key rotation players in Grant Nelson, Dezmond McKinney and Boden Skunberg.
Richman has high hopes for incoming freshmen recruits Andrew Morgan from Waseca, Minn., and Joshua Streit from Watkins, Minn. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Morgan is one of the top-ranked recruits in Minnesota and Streit is a 6-8 forward who averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds for Eden Valley-Watkins as a junior.
“I think the biggest thing for now is continuing to get the right people,” Richman said, “and what that means is we’ve had great success finding people who understand what we’re about inside out, not just on the surface of basketball. The goal is to find the longer, more athletic, talented player who yet still fits our profile.”
NDSU earlier this week also got a verbal commitment from JC point guard Willie Guy from Des Moines Area Community College (Iowa). He is averaging 11.9 points and 6.1 assists per game and shooting 44% from 3-point range this season.