MARSHALL, Minn. – Southwest Minnesota State University head men's basketball coach Brad Bigler announced on Tuesday that five high school standouts have signed letters of intent to continue their academic and basketball careers at SMSU.
Joining the SMSU program for the 2014-15 season include Kolin Bartlett from St. Peter, Minn., Carter Kirk from Mountain Lake, Minn., Turner Moen from Lake Mills, Wis., Taylor Schafer from Bismarck, N.D., and Josh Weix from Eau Claire, Wis.
"This recruiting class has some big shoes to fill with a talented senior class graduating," Bigler said. "We feel that this group will bring a good combination of size, athleticism and skill. This recruiting class is also versatile enough to mesh well with the current guys on the roster."
Bartlett, a 6-foot-7, forward at St. Peter High School for coach Sean Keating, averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game last season and has been a member of three conference champion and one state qualifying teams. Kolin - a team captain this season – will be joining older brother, Joey at SMSU, who is a current member of the SMSU men's basketball team.
"Kolin was a natural fit for the program, his brother Joey is doing a great job for us," Bigler said. "Kolin has been battling injuries throughout his high school career. His size and toughness will make an impact on our program. We will take it step-by-step with him. He will be redshirting next year and that will be good for him. The goal for him is to build his strength so that he can be versatile enough to play the power forward or center position."
Kirk, a 6-foot-7, forward at Mountain Lake High School, averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks per game last season for coach Shawn Naas. He is a three-time all-conference and all-area honoree and twice has been named all-state honorable mention. The 2012-13 KNUJ Player of the Year, Kirk is the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,650 points and has pulled down 940 rebounds with 350 assists and 180 blocked shots. He is also a three-time all-conference honoree in football; including helping lead Mountain Lake to the state nine-man quarterfinals this season.
"Carter is an athletic forward who physically will be ready to play right away," Bigler said. "He is a guy who will defend and rebound at a high level. His aggressiveness will remind Mustang fans of former players Taylor Huseby, Scott Roehl and Ross DeMasi. On the offensive end, he will be a tough matchup because of his versatility. What I like best about Carter is that he is a great teammate. He truly cares about the success of the team over his personal success."
Moen, a 6-foot-3, guard at Lake Mills High School for coach Steve Hicklin, averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game last season. For his efforts a season ago, Moen earned all-conference, Jefferson County Player of the Year and honorable mention all-state accolades. He has scored 965 points in his career with 322 rebounds and 384 assists. Moen was named first team all-conference as a sophomore and second team all-conference as a freshman.
"Turner is a big guard who will be a tough match-up," Bigler said. "His versatility and skill set remind me of former Mustang Kevin Andrews. Turner plays with a toughness that we want to be about. He has that little edge that makes him a winner. He is a guy who plays bigger than his frame. His leadership will be key in this class."
Schafer, a 6-foot-2, guard at Bismarck High School for coach Steve Miller, averaged 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game last season in leading the Demons to the championship game of the Class A state tournament. Schafer hit three free throws with less than a second remaining in the semifinals to help Bismarck win a one-point game. An all-conference honoree in 2012-13, Schafer is averaging 16 points and five assists per game in his career.
"Taylor is deep range shooter and has a long wingspan," Bigler said. "He has a quick release and a textbook jump shot. His game reminds me of a Jordan Miller coming out of high school. He will be a guy that opens up the offense. Just his presence on the floor will open things up for teammates. He too plays with a tenacity that will be fun to watch. He is as competitive as they come."
Weix, a 6-foot-6, forward at Eau Claire North High School, averaged 12.6 points, five rebounds and three assists per game last season for coach Aric Carpenter. He was named team MVP and also earned all-conference, all-city and third team all-state honors. He is also a two-time all-conference honoree in soccer.
"Josh is a versatile forward who has the ability to shoot from 3-point range. He has the athleticism to attack the rim off the dribble," Bigler said. "Coming out of the spring he was a sleeper on our depth chart. We felt he would be a guy who fits our system and needs perfectly. He will play a role similar to Will Giddings and Lavione West the past few years. He is a high-energy guy who will be counted on to do a variety of things."
"The recruiting process for this class was a lot of fun," Bigler stated. "The families were great to work with and the high school and AAU coaches were all very supportive. We feel very fortunate to add them to the Mustang family. The future is bright with the addition of this class and the returning players."
"I'm proud of all the work the coaches put into the process," Bigler said. "When good things like this happen it is a group effort. Recruiting never ends and their commitment makes a huge difference in our program. We have 14 guys on the roster for next year. The plan is to add one more dynamic player that will compliment this group."
Southwest Minnesota State, located in Marshall, is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.