Friday Can’t Come Soon Enough For This Trio

BY MICHAEL HAMMOND | USD Sports Information

Nov. 10, 2016 | Men’s Basketball

VERMILLION, S.D. — Although the South Dakota men’s basketball team includes 10 newcomers, three of the 10 have been on campus for more than a year now.

Division I transfers Trey Dickerson, Matt Mooney, and Carlton Hurst had to sit out a full year last season due to transfer rules, but still got to practice with the team.

“Sitting out was a lot harder than what I thought it would be,” Mooney said. “It makes you realize how much you love playing the game and how much you miss it.”

Most players who transfer have never missed a season of basketball since they began playing. Having two teammates by your side as you watch from the sidelines can make the process not seem as bad.

“Sitting out with Matt and Carlton made it easier,” Dickerson said. “Whenever one of us got frustrated, we stayed positive and had a lot of talks when the team was gone.”

As transfers, the trio did not travel with the team for road games and were just spectators while the team played at home.

“It helps knowing someone who is going through the struggle or the same process as you,” Hurst said. “Sometimes you connect with people that way and make a closer bond. Trey, Matt, and I have a closer connection because we had to sit out and go through everything together.”

Dickerson came to South Dakota from Iowa and was the first of the trio to commit to the Coyotes. After his minutes were reduced around the start of Big Ten play, he decided to transfer and find a larger role. He was considering USD, Seton Hall, and Ole Miss, but chose USD based on the familiar coaching staff. Head coach Craig Smith recruited him out of junior college when he was at Nebraska and assistant coach Eric Peterson was the head coach of his junior college team, Williston State College.

“They were telling me that they believe in me and I was going to get an opportunity to be here and make something happen,” Dickerson said. “When I came on my visit, everything was family oriented and I knew about the new arena, so that helped my decision also.”

A bigger role is just what Dickerson will have for the Coyotes with big minutes at the point guard position.

“I think I can facilitate, get guys involved, score, and just try to win games,” Dickerson said. “Really that is the main focus of everything.”

Next in line to commit was Mooney, who decided to transfer after his freshman season at Air Force. Like Dickerson, the coaching staff and new arena attracted Mooney to USD over Colgate and Evansville. Smith and assistant coach Austin Hansen were on the phone with him almost every day.

“The new facility coming in had a lot to do with it, but the coaching staff was the biggest reason why I came here,” Mooney said. “I think it is important to go somewhere the coach likes your game, he believes in you, and you respect the coach.”

Mooney brings in the most experience after averaging 19 minutes and 6.9 points per game at Air Force and is set to fill in for the Coyotes, who lost 78 percent of their scoring from last season.

Hurst was the last to commit, transferring from Colorado State. After seeing his minutes nearly cut in half his sophomore season from his freshman year, he decided it was time to move elsewhere.

“I wanted a better opportunity to prove or show what I can do and help out a team,” Hurst said.

Before committing to USD, Hurst talked to both Dickerson and Mooney, who had transferred for similar reasons.

“Trey and I connected really well because we felt like we were in the same situations at our previous schools,” Hurst said. “Matt’s reason was similar to ours and that helped knowing someone else was going through what I was going through.”

Since coming to Vermillion, Hurst has been working on his game and could be the defensive stopper for the Coyotes on the court this year.

“Vermillion is a lot smaller, but it helps you focus a lot more,” Hurst said. “You work on basketball, focus more on school, and observe and learn the game more.”

Not being able to play games, the three spent the season working on their individual skills as well as playing for the scout team in practice.

“We got better,” Dickerson said. “We worked out a lot together off the court by getting stronger in the weight room. It feels like it has paid off.”

Being around each other so much will allow Dickerson, Mooney, and Hurst to have chemistry on and off the court.

“It will help us this year and moving on because we were all on the scout team and we had to do all the sets and workouts together,” Hurst said.

With just five returning players on the 15-man roster, the Coyotes are poised to chase a conference championship this year.

“We want to play in the NCAA tournament and that is not easy to do,” Mooney said. “They picked us between seventh, eighth, and ninth in the poll and we see that. We have to earn respect and it starts with setting the tone in the first game against Drake.”

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