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Dakota Magic take the court in early form for new league

The Dakota Magic basketball team is starting to come into shape. About a dozen players trying to make Mitchell's new professional basketball team participated in a recent exhibition game against the Sioux City Hornets, as the National Basketball ...

The Dakota Magic basketball team is starting to come into shape.

About a dozen players trying to make Mitchell's new professional basketball team participated in a recent exhibition game against the Sioux City Hornets, as the National Basketball League of America prepares for the league draft and the start of the season in September.

For now, NBLA league president Darryl Greene - who runs the Dakota Wesleyan University sports management program - continues to run both the league and the team.

"I've done this before, where I've created a team from scratch, where I've been in charge of personnel and I've coached teams like this," he said. "I guess what makes this different is right now I'm doing all three all at the same time."

The Magic are set to play a 20-game schedule starting in September and running through the fall at the Corn Palace with a team primarily featuring regional players who went to college in the area. The team currently has a group of mostly small college players who are on the team to this point and the franchise will have 18 to 20 players on its roster after the league's June draft and heading into training camp in August. At that point, the Magic will cut the roster to 12 players to take into the regular season.

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The team doesn't have a coach, so Greene is doing that as well. He said the team plans to hire a coach this summer.

"Right now, I'm coaching the guys," Greene said Wednesday. "I coached them on the 22nd of May and I'll coach them on the 11th of June. Who knows? Maybe there's a student at DWU who wants to be a coach one day. He can come in and I'll mentor them. There's all kinds of possibilities. This is the league of opportunity after all."

For now, there is a team taking the floor as the Dakota Magic. In that exhibition game on May 22, the Magic led by as many as 16 points in the first half before falling 119-118 in the inaugural league game at the South Sioux City High School Mini-Dome in South Sioux City, Nebraska. The Magic had a starting five of all former NAIA players: Concordia University's Jamie Pearson, Morningside's Andrew Christen, Nebraska Wesleyan's Travis Giesselmann, Dakota Wesleyan's Terrell Newton and former NAIA player of the year Joe Mitchell, of Friends University in Kansas.

"We've got guys that showed they could play on the college level and it's a pretty talented group," he said. "It's got that local feel."

The same two teams will play again June 11 in Sioux City at the local Boys and Girls Club, in a game that has already dubbed as a rematch by the Sioux City team.

As for the league, the membership now has four teams: Mitchell's Dakota Magic, the Sioux City Hornets, the Omaha Chargers and the Siouxland Bison, an all-Native American team located in Macy, Nebraska on the Omaha Nation Indian Reservation. They've previously played in the American Basketball Association but recently asked if they could join the league.

"I figured why not?" Greene said. "I think it's great to have that sort of connection to the native community and I think they'll be a good addition."

Other franchises are being pursued in Bismarck, North Dakota and Kansas City but arena deals still need to be worked out. The same is the case for the Colorado Kings, who were also members of the ABA last year. Greene said the Kings are in if they can get arena dates nailed down.

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"We certainly have a lot of interest from others in what we're building," Greene said.

The league will also host a combine for the National Basketball League of Canada on June 28 in Sioux Falls. The NBLA will operate as a feeder league to the Canadian league and Greene said it could be good to get local players exposure with Canadian squads while also building his own league's name.

The league still has plans for a three-tiered draft later this month to have teams draft players from NCAA Division I, Division II and the NAIA. The season would run until late November, playing twice a week with weeknight and weekend afternoon games. The Corn Palace would host 10 games, with general admission tickets would starting at $10. Season tickets would start at $80 for the season.

Here's a capsule look at who's currently with the team:

• Trey Bardsley - Nebraska Wesleyan: A sharp-shooting NAIA All-American, Bardsley was the top scoring player in the GPAC, where he won the conference's player of the year award. A 5-foot-10 guard from Beatrice, Nebraska, Bardsley averaged nearly 29 points a game and scored a career-high 55 points in a GPAC tournament win over Dakota Wesleyan.

• Andrew Christen - Morningside: A 6-foot-7 forward with the Lake Michigan Admirals, of the Premier Basketball League last season, Christen played all 33 games as a Morningside Mustang in the 2014-15 season, averaging 10 points and six rebounds a game.

• Derek Detrick - Bellevue University: A former player for two seasons at Williston State (N.D) and last played at the Nebraska school, he's 6-foot-7 forward from Glendale, Arizona.

• Travis Giesselmann - Nebraska Wesleyan: Averaging 21 points per game and nine rebounds per contest, Giesselmann was one of the leaders of the Prairie Wolves in their final GPAC season. He's a 6-foot-4 forward from Elkhorn, Nebraska.

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• Dylan Hale - Dakota State: Originally a North Dakota State recruit, Hale was a North Star Athletic Association all-conference pick in 2014 and led the Trojans in scoring in 2014. He's a 6-foot-2 guard from St. Paul, Minnesota.

• Joe Mitchell - Friends U. (Kan.): A former player in the Canadian National Basketball League, Mitchell, the 6-foot-1 guard scored 32.2 points per game and was NAIA player of the year in 2014 at Friends. He was on rosters at Ohio University and Wichita State before moving to NAIA basketball.

• Terrell Newton - Dakota Wesleyan: The most familiar local name, Newton, a 6-foot-5 Huron native, played for two seasons for DWU. He averaged 7.4 points per game in 34 contests as a senior and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.

• Jamie Pearson (Concordia (Neb.)): A former player at Wayne State (Neb.), Pearson was an all-GPAC second-team pick in 2016, averaging 18 points a game for the Bulldogs and starting in all 29 games. A 49 percent shooter in college, hitting nearly 37 percent of his threes. A 6-foot-2 guard from Ypsilanti, Michigan.

• Jordan Stotts - University of Sioux Falls: Stotts, a 6-foot-8 forward from Waukee, Iowa, averaged 10 points per game and started 22 contests for the Cougars in 2015-16.

Related Topics: CORN PALACEBASKETBALL
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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