Division I transfer McGhee has provided 'immediate impact' for Dragons men's basketball program

Minnesota State Moorhead junior guard Lorenzo McGhee, a Division I transfer, has made a seamless transition in his first season with the Dragons men's basketball team

Minnesota State Moorhead's Lorenzo McGhee gets a rebound in front of Mary's Regan Tollefson during their men's basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, at Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead junior Lorenzo McGhee has played only 10 games with the Dragons, but the NCAA Division I transfer has blended with his teammates like he’s been part of the program for years.

McGhee, who played for Nicholls State (La.) last season, is the team’s scoring leader heading into the final two games of a pandemic-shortened regular season.

“I can’t say enough nice things about him on how he’s fit in with everybody and how everybody enjoys having him as their teammate,” said Dragons head men’s basketball coach Chad Walthall. “First and foremost, he’s really a wonderful kid and it usually takes any kind of transfer to any program some time to develop relationships, which also develops productivity on the floor.”

The Dragons have a chance to win the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division championship this weekend. They play at No. 2-ranked Northern State at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, and 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. MSUM (8-2, 8-0) needs to sweep the Wolves (14-0, 12-0) to win the North Division. The Dragons have clinched at least the No. 2 seed from the North for the NSIC tournament Feb. 25-28 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“They’re the No. 2 team in the country for a reason,” Walthall said of Northern State, which is led by former Bison head coach Saul Phillips. "They’re extremely talented.”


Minnesota State Moorhead's Lorenzo McGhee looks to pass against Mary during their men's basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, at Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

McGhee has been an added injection of talent for the Dragons, who returned five of their top seven scorers from last season. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 15.3 points per game and has scored in double digits in nine games.

“He fits in with the already solid group core of guys that we have and it’s definitely shown on the court,” said Dragons junior guard Bryce Irsfeld, who is averaging 12.0 points per game while shooting 40% from 3-point range. “Lorenzo is a mature guy. He’s a well-liked guy.”

McGhee was a three-year starter at Columbia High School in Decatur, Ga., before he played one season at Columbia State (Tenn.) Community College. Then he spent last season at Nicholls, a Division I program in the Southland Conference.

McGhee said the Dragons first recruited him after his junior college season and then were one of the first teams that contacted him after he entered the transfer portal following his one season at Nicholls. McGhee remembers getting a call from MSUM assistant coach Tim Bergstraser soon after he made it known he was going to transfer from Nicholls.

“I knew that he really wanted me to come play for him and he saw something in what I was doing,” McGhee said. “I felt like this was a good place for me if they wanted me to come in and have a big role.”

McGhee has been efficient on offense for the Dragons, shooting 47% (51 of 108) from the floor, 37% (10 of 27) from 3-point range and 82% (41 of 50) from the foul line. He’s also grabbed 5.0 rebounds per game, while averaging 30 minutes a contest. In addition, McGhee has been the team’s best wing defender.


“He really gives us defensive stability, somebody that can defend the opponents best perimeter offensive player and that’s been huge for us,” Walthall said. “He does a lot of different things well as a basketball player. He’s extremely competitive. He enjoys challenges. He embraces the opportunity.”

McGhee takes pride in his defense.

“That comes from not wanting the other player to score on me,” McGhee said. “I just don’t want to get scored that much so I just try my hardest.”

Irsfeld, who is in his fourth season at MSUM, has appreciated the way McGhee has blended into the program in a relatively short time frame. Adding to that challenge, the offseason was disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Dragons had four games canceled during the regular season due to COVID-19 test protocols.

“There isn’t much more that you could want from a transfer, especially with his first year in,” Irsfeld said. “He’s made the coaches look really, really good by bringing him in. … He’s always in good spirits. He’s always joking around, but on the court, business is business.”

McGhee credits his teammates and the coaching staff for helping make his transition into the program seamless.

“The team makes it really easy for me because they want me to be aggressive and take shots,” McGhee said. ““Coach Walthall makes it easier because he tells me what he wants. He puts me in positions to where I can make good plays. … I knew I would be able to come in and make an immediate impact.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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