Life without basketball is less fun than life with basketball
It has been 59 days since the NDSU women’s basketball team saw their season end after an exciting Summit League tournament run. For the men, their final game was played 58 days ago, but everyone thought there was still Bison basketball left to be played in the NCAA tournament before that, like every other sporting event on the planet, was postponed/canceled.
In all, it has been roughly two months since anyone, anywhere, has seen professional, amateur or high school basketball athletes play a meaningful basketball game. How have we made it this long? Has it been the hope of the light at the end of the tunnel? Or maybe it is The Last Dance documentary on ESPN that’s been quenching our basketball thirst?
Maybe it’s both, maybe it’s something else completely, but one thing’s for sure, it has absolutely, unequivocally, not been ESPN’s ‘H-O-R-S-E Challenge.’ Whatever the future brings, basketball, and all other sports, will certainly be a part of it. With any luck when we return to school in the fall right in time for fall sports to kick off. But for now, we’re stuck in a desolate world without the sports we have clearly taken for granted.
Anyway, what was this article supposed to be about again? Oh right, there actually has indeed been NDSU basketball news. Both the men and the women have made headlines that will affect their 2020-2021 seasons.
Bison head coach David Richman has added a pair of Joshes to his coaching staff heading into next season. Josh Sash is being brought in after just one year as the Des Moines Area CC head coach.
Sash was highly successful in that one year, winning Region XI coach of the year helping the Bears along to a 29-4 record that propelled them to an NCCAJC tournament birth.
Before Des Moines, Sash has been an assistant at six different schools. Coach Richman noted that Sash’s experience, particularly has a head coach ‘will have a great impact’ on how the NDSU continues to build their program.
Former Eastern Kentucky University star Joshua Jones will also be joining Richman’s staff. Jones knows the lay of the land in the Missouri Valley after spending his last four years as an assistant at Western Illinois.
“I’ve spent the past four years in The Summit League and know firsthand that NDSU is a very special place.”
Jones and Sash bring a fresh set of eyes to a team, and a program looking to stay on top after clinching its second straight Summit League Tournament title in the 2019-20 season.
Richman and his staff have stayed active in their hunt for new recruits heading into next season. NDSU snagged their second out of state commit in Rayton, MO’s Dezmond McKinney. McKinney was an all-state guard in his senior season at Missouri, and also happens to come from the same high school as Jabril Cox. One Rayton South alum leaves, another one enters.
McKinney joins junior college transfer and Minneapolis native Donald Carter III and North Dakota’s own Boden Skunberg (Jamestown), Grayson Haman (Fargo Davies) and ND Mr. Basketball winner Grant Nelson to round out their current recruiting class.
With the departures of Vinnie Shahid and Jared Samuelson coupled with Cameron Hunter putting his name in the NCAA transfer portal, some of these freshmen may be expected to step in a play big-time minutes for the herd next season.
The new crop of Bison recruits will be able to play in front of the (statistically proven) best fans in all the Summit League. NDSU was tops in the conference for home attendance average over 3000 fans per game.
Head Coach Jory Collins has secured a couple of transfers in Iowa Western’s Britney Epperson and Northern Colorado’s Kadie Deaton.
Collins mentioned that this is not the first time Deaton has been on his radar as a potential recruit.
“Kadie is someone I actually started the recruiting process with while I was at Kansas almost two years ago…” The 5’11” Wisconsin native is required to sit out next season due to NCAA’s transfer rules but is filing for immediate eligibility.
Epperson, who was originally from the down-under in Melbourne, Australia, is a 6’2″ forward that has two years of eligibility remaining and will have the opportunity to step in immediately after catching the injury bug during her sophomore season at Iowa Western.
“She plays with the physicality we need to compete in our league. Everyone that knows Britney knows her best basketball is ahead of her,” Collins said.
Epperson and Deaton with Redland’s Community College transfer Reneya Hopkins round the transfer trio for Collins. Point guard Kylie Strop and Maple Grove’s own Abby Schulte round out NDSU’s 2020-21 recruiting class.
The 2019-20 team took a massive step forward under Collins. The Bison secured double-digit wins for the first time in five years and won a Summit League Tournament game for the first time in a decade.
Program turnarounds never happen overnight, but the ship finally seems to be pointed in the right direction for the Herd.