The North Dakota State University men’s basketball team will play a pair of Pac-12 teams next season as scheduling continues for the Bison. Head Coach, David Richman, confirmed to me the Herd will play both Arizona and USC next season as a part of its non-conference slate. The Wildcats lost in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament to Xavier, while USC beat Providence in the ‘First-Four’ game, and then knocked off SMU before falling to Baylor in the second-round last season. Arizona had quite a few early exits for the NBA draft, while a majority of USC’s core will be back including big man Bennie Boatwright, who was a man amongst boys vs. SMU.
Richman also tells me there is an opponent from Southeastern Conference that is likely to be scheduled soon as well. This opponent is NOT Kentucky and finished in the bottom half of the SEC last season.
Here is the skinny on both opponents that we know of.
ARIZONA: 32-5 in 2016-17 (16-1 at home)
Head Coach: Sean Miller (9th Year)
Averaged nearly 77 points per game, shot 47.7% from the field and 39% from three-point range.
Lauri Markannen, a 7'0 forward from Finland, who averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game declared for the NBA early. He’s expected to be a first-round pick (and could land with the Minnesota Timberwolves 7th overall).
Kobi Simmons, a 6’5” guard, averaged 8.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and two assists per game. He also declared early for the draft after his freshman season.
Chance Comanche, a 6’10” center, was a bit of surprise, leaving school early after averaging 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18.1 minutes last season as a sophomore.
Kadeem Allen, a 6’3” senior guard, averaged 9.8 points, 4 rebounds and three assists per game.
Alonzo Trier, a junior-to-be averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season, but played in only 18 of 37 games after sitting out until Jan. 21 because of a positive drug test (traces of a performance-enhancing substance in his bloodstream).
Dusan Ristic, a 7’0” center, will be back after averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
UPDATED: Rawle Alkins (WILL RETURN) Averaged 10.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season. He will be a sophomore, if he returns.
UNIVERSITY OF SOTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC): 26-10 in 2016-17 (14-3 at home)
Head Coach: Andy Enfield (5th year)
Averaged 78.2 points per game, shot 45.6% from the field, 36.2% from three-point range.
Shaqquan Aaron (Still testing NBA waters) averaged 7.6 points and three rebounds per game, making 20 starts a year ago. Could still return for next season.
Bennie Boatwright, a 6’10” forward that averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds a game, missed 17 games due to injury.
Chimezie Metu, a 6’11” forward that averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Also led team in blocks with 55 on the season.
Jordan McLaughlin, a 6’1” guard that averaged 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He also led the team in steals with 53
Elijah Stewart, a 6’5” guard that averaged 12.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
De’Anthony Melton, a 6’4” guard that averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
Expect both the Wildcats and Trojans to be the favorites (along with Oregon) for the Pac-12 title next season. Both teams will provide obvious challenges for NDSU, but the Bison can certainly learn and build on the experience as they prepare for a tough Summit League schedule.
NEWS & NOTES: The Bison returning players will be back working out on campus after Memorial Day. The new additions will join the team and start working out with the team on June 11th. NDSU basketball camps start on June 6th with youth camps. Big man, guard and team camps continue throughout the month. Learn more and register at www.ndsumensbasketballcamps.com.