New DSU women's basketball coach goes Down Under for recruits
Caleb Harrison said he wanted to recruit his native New Zealand and Australia when he was hired as Dickinson State's head women's basketball coach in July.
Harrison has delivered on that objective.
The Blue Hawks completed their recruiting class this week, just before classes were set to begin, as Harrison announced the signing of seven new recruits to go along with the three high school players signed by former head coach Andre Goldberg last winter.
In all, the class includes two junior transfers, including one from New Zealand, and eight incoming freshmen, three of whom call Australia home.
"It's exciting for the future," Harrison said. "Not only will these players be able to help us right now, but we can look forward to the future and really build on what we currently have."
Leading the group are transfers Jessica Bygate, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, and Mariah Duran, a 5-5 junior guard from Northwest College in Powell, Wyo.
Duran averaged 12.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for last season.
"She's one of the better shooters I've seen," Harrison said. "She has the ability to shoot it and get to the rim."
Bygate, a native of Nelson, New Zealand, played last season for Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College where she averaged 10.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and shot 53 percent from the field.
She originally committed to Southeast Missouri State, a NCAA Division I school in the Ohio Valley Conference before encountering eligibility issues.
"She's going to be a good player," Harrison said. "We're really fortunate to get her so late. She's a Division I-caliber player. In the Frontier Conference, you really need those kind of players to battle."
Three players committed to DSU in the winter: New Salem-Almont all-state forward Emily Wolf, Jayln Klauzer of Baker, Mont., and Sierra Bayless of Broadus, Mont.
They'll be joined by Australians Kate Golding, Lesina Manuatu and Lorna Shepherd and South Dakotans Aly Gibson and Brooke Thompson.
"It is definitely a culture shock coming up to North Dakota from Australia, but the girls have all been really welcoming," said Manuatu, a 5-7 forward from Canberra, Australia. "It'll take us a little bit longer than others to settle in."
Manuatu said after just two days of workouts and open gyms, the Australian trio has noticed just how physical the American game is compared to the U-18 and U-20 teams they played for Down Under.
"The physicality is a lot different than back home," she said. "We're physical in games, but training is definitely not to the standard that we've undergone the last two days. And that's open gym, that's not even training."
Golding is a 6-foot forward from Sydney and Shepherd is a 5-8 guard from Brisbane.
Gibson is a 5-5 guard who played at Harding County High School in Buffalo, S.D., until her senior season when she transferred to Rapid City (S.D.) Central High School. She will also compete for the track and field team.
Thompson is a 5-9 forward from Hot Springs, S.D.
Golding said she is excited about the Blue Hawks' future because of their youth.
"Having such a new group, if we're not at our peak this year, the next couple years are going to be fantastic," Golding said. "We're going to be playing together a lot the next couple years. We're already coming into a really strong program. They already have such a strong group. It can only get better."