Dakota Wesleyan men's basketball loading up with talented incoming recruiting class
DWU's class includes a South Dakota first-team all-state player in Class AA and Class A from this past season, as well as two second-team Class AA players and one from the Class A second-team.
MITCHELL — Dakota Wesleyan men’s basketball head coach Matt Wilber has always strived for a high level of internal competition.
And it looks like he’ll have plenty of that in the coming years.
DWU boasts a loaded recruiting class for 2023, which features a South Dakota first-team all-state player in Class AA and Class A from this past season, as well as two second-team Class AA players and a player from the Class A all-state second-team.
The crop of incoming freshmen is headlined by some of South Dakota’s most electric players. From the likes of all-state first-teamers in Dakota Valley’s Randy Rosenquist and Sioux Falls Jefferson’s Kaden Year to second-team selections like Mitchell’s Steele Morgan, Harrisburg’s Ethan Determan and Hanson’s Ethan Cheeseman, some of South Dakota’s best talent is set to call Dakota Wesleyan home next year.
And for Wilber, getting the South Dakota recruits is priority No. 1.
“It is absolutely the most important factor for us when we’re starting with our recruiting class,” Wilber said of getting kids from South Dakota. “... We want to get the best South Dakota kids every year. That’s our No. 1 goal.”
That goal was apparent in the Tigers’ recruiting this season, as Rosenquist averaged 14 points, nine assists and seven reboudns per game, helping the Panthers secure their second-consecutive, undefeated state title in Class A, while Year was a go-to scorer for Jefferson during a campaign where the Cavaliers lost a Class AA-low three games.
Determan was a two-time all-state second-team selection in Class AA, and Morgan was a key piece in guiding Mitchell to a state championship appearance. As for Cheeseman, his 19 points per game helped propel Hanson to the Class A SoDak 16.
Adding a class of that caliber to a roster that had only two seniors graduate bodes well for the future of the program — a sentiment not lost on Wilber.
“My job is to recruit better players than are in the program currently, and it's your job to beat them out when they get here,” Wilber said he tells his team. “And if that cycle is happening, the performance will take care of itself.”
Some of the talent of the incoming class was on display during the South Dakota Coaches Association All-Star game in Sioux Falls on April 7, as Rosenquist, Year, Determan and Cheeseman were all on the same team, offering potential glimpses of what could be to come for the Tigers.
“I hope that’s what it is, because I’m going to love it,” Cheeseman said afterward of the all-star game being a potential taste of the future.
And while it would be naive to think all the freshmen will play right away — especially given several sophomores and juniors saw significant playing time last year for DWU — it isn’t out of the question for some to see minutes right out of the gate, according to Wilber. And he added that competition internally for minutes is something he expects to be highly competitive.
After back-to-back 13-16 seasons for the Tigers, though, the talented class coming in, coupled with the talent returning to the roster, offers hope of a turnaround in the near future, as well as sustained success for years to come.
“We're not where we want to be right now. So obviously, the name of the game in college basketball is recruiting, and you got to go out and try to get the best kids you can,” Wilber said. “It’s hard to expect them to come in and turn that around Day 1; I wouldn’t put that on them. But do I expect them to be program builders and be guys that are going to be a part of that and help us get going again? Absolutely.”