Local recruits keep choosing Wesleyan
Dakota Wesleyan University men's basketball fans should continue to notice a lot of familiar faces take the court over the next few years.
The Tigers, who play in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, have 15 players on their roster this year from South Dakota. They added another Mitchell native, Tate Martin, Wednesday.
"It's good to come home and play at the Corn Palace in front of all the good fans in Mitchell," Martin said Thursday evening. "Coach Murphy has a great program."
While all of the players listed on DWU's roster are not playing in varsity games this year, the number of in-state and local players exceeds all other colleges in South Dakota.
For DWU head coach Shane Murphy, recruiting within the state is vital to the success of his program.
"When I took the job here, my focus was to try to get the best talent available and the best guys in the state," said Murphy, who is in his third year at the helm of the Tigers. "Hopefully, we are an exciting group to watch over the next few years.
"I think it's all about trying to build your program around local guys. I think the local guys we have will help us help compete at the top of our conference."
While Murphy has scoured the entire state for talent, he hasn't had to venture very far away to find a couple of the recruits he has landed right in his backyard at Mitchell High School, such as Martin.
Martin was a starter for the Kernels last season on Mitchell's state runner-up team.
One of Martin's teammates, freshman forward Jade Miller, is coming off the bench for the Tigers, averaging 3.8 points per game and has seen time in each contest this season. Another starter on last year's Kernels squad was Matt Henriksen, who is also on the DWU roster but redshirting this season.
"I think it's important that we take advantage of the real good local talent right here in town," Murphy said. "Mitchell has been a very good basketball area for a lot of years, and I feel really fortunate that we have been able to tap into that talent area."
Martin, a point guard, is joining the Tigers in the spring semester and will redshirt this season.
The 5-11 point guard is transferring from NCAA Division II University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., at the end of the semester after never suiting up for the Marauders, who play in the Northern State Intercollegiate Conference.
"I thought playing NAIA and the GPAC would be a better fit for me," Martin said. "I'll be able to play for four years here. Mary wasn't the fit for me with the way they play. It's nothing against the coaches up there, but thought I would have a better career here."
Other local players who are contributing for the Tigers are Corsica natives Luke Bamberg and Kris Menning. Bamberg, a sophomore, has started in several games for DWU. Worthington, Minn., native Jalen Voss was named the conference's freshman of the year last season and is making a huge impact for the Tigers in the start of his sophomore year.
Local players who could impact DWU in the future are Armour's Adam Fink and Winner's Kyle Mathis, both freshmen.
"It has been our message that we want to not just recruit the best Mitchell guys, but also the guys in the surrounding area," said Murphy, who has played his college ball at the University of South Dakota.