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Dak-12 to DWU: Tigers continue Dakota-XII recruiting pipeline

SALEM--Dakota Wesleyan University and the Dakota XII Conference go hand in hand. DWU men's basketball coach Matt Wilber coached the Class A All-Stars during the 3-Class Shootout on Saturday in Salem. Wilber and the A squad swept the Class AA and ...

Vermillion's Cooper Williams (20) pulls up for a shot against Chester Area's Jesse Kreutzfeldt during the 3-Class Shootout on Saturday in Salem. (Ryan Deal/Republic)
Vermillion's Cooper Williams (20) pulls up for a shot against Chester Area's Jesse Kreutzfeldt during the 3-Class Shootout on Saturday in Salem. (Ryan Deal/Republic)

SALEM-Dakota Wesleyan University and the Dakota XII Conference go hand in hand.

DWU men's basketball coach Matt Wilber coached the Class A All-Stars during the 3-Class Shootout on Saturday in Salem.

Wilber and the A squad swept the Class AA and B teams during the event. The A team consisted of six players from the Dakota XII, including a pair of future Tigers in Vermillion's Cooper Williams and Tri-Valley's Will Steineke.

The Tigers have made a strong push at landing players from the 12-team league and Wilber expects that trend to continue.

"If you talk about what a kid like Dakota Wesleyan looks like, there is a lot of kids running around that conference that fits that mold," Wilber said.

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The former Dak-12 players on the current DWU roster now includes Dell Rapids' Ty Hoglund, Madison's Trae Vandeberg and Taner DenHoed, Lennox's Jacob Hinker and West Central's Noah Vettrus.

Williams said his familiarity with his former Dak-12 counterparts played a factor in picking DWU.

"I definitely enjoyed playing against guys like Ty and all those other guys," Williams said. "It is really cool to be able to all kind of merge at one school."

It was also cool what the conference did in the postseason. The league had five teams play in the state tournament, with Tea Area winning the state title. In fact, the five teams finished among the top five spots in the eight-team tourney. The Titans beat Madison in the title game. Sioux Falls Christian defeated Tri-Valley in the third place contest, while Dakota Valley won the consolation game.

"It was very impressive," Williams said about the state-tournament showing. "It really shows how tough our league is night in and night out."

Wilber said Williams will be in the mix for playing time next season at the point guard spot, especially after the graduation of All-American Tate Martin. The 6-foot Williams finished with 1,154 points, 375 assists (school record), 353 rebounds and 92 steals at Vermillion.

"He is a true point guard," Wilber said. "He makes the right play and the right decision all the time. It will be fun getting him with our other guys."

Steineke is a 6-foot-5 post that can stretch the floor with his outside shot. He averaged 18 points and eight rebounds per game this season.

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"He shoots the ball from the perimeter OK for being a big guy," Wilber said. "He has got a great motor."

There were some other future Tigers in the 3-Class Shootout. Mitchell's Connor Morgan played for Class AA. White River's Justice Morrison and Wolsey-Wessington's Bennett White played for Class B, while Mount/Vernon Plankinton's Devin Rihanek was on the Class A squad.

Morgan scored 13 points for Class AA. White scored 17 for Class B, while Morrison added 15 points and seven boards.

"I thought our guys coming to (Dakota Wesleyan) represented themselves really well," Wilber said.

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