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Former Bison player Vaughan named Dickinson State head men's basketball coach

Josh Vaughan will take over the head coaching position for the Dickinson State men's basketball team. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

The Dickinson State men's basketball team is under new management.

Josh Vaughan will take over the 2016 North Star Athletic Association regular season champion team following former head coach Justin Wetzel departing for the Wisconsin Herd, an expansion team in the NBA G League.

Vaughan left his post as assistant coach and head recruiter at the University of Mary, which he's held since 2015, to take the position.

"Everyone I've worked with and for has taught me different things and how to handle different situations," Vaughan said. "They've all been really good people, and I think if you're a good person and you're around a lot of good people, usually you'll have a lot of success. That's what my whole life has been with basketball. Just be around good people and it works out."

Although he's never been a head coach, since playing at and graduating from North Dakota State University in 2010, Vaughan has tackled every other angle of basketball.

In his junior season, Vaughan and the Bison earned a spot in the NCAA tournament, but lost to Kansas 84-74 in the first round. After obtaining his degree in sport and recreation leadership at NDSU, Vaughan traveled to Spartanburg, S.C., to take over as Director of Basketball Operations at Wofford College, where he had a second taste of the NCAA tourney, but this time as a coach. The Terriers fell in the first round, and ever since, Vaughan has been hungry for a return.

"It's different when you go to post-season tournaments," Vaughan recalled. "It's just a different feeling. When you get there once, you want to go back."

After a year on the East Coast, he returned to his home state of Minnesota in 2011 to be assistant coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead while earning a master's degree. Upon earning that, he returned to NDSU as Director of Basketball Operations in 2013.

Stepping up into a larger role isn't even the biggest challenge for the new coach. Vaughan is inheriting the team with less than three weeks until the opening game.

"It's so many new things for everybody," he said. "These guys didn't come here to play for me. They came here to play for Coach Wetzel. The biggest thing for me is just not screw it up. With how many older guys we have, 10 seniors, they've been around and through everything before. They're older college basketball players. So just kind of guide them and don't get in the way."

Vaughan doesn't want to interrupt the momentum of the team by incorporating a new playing style, so he said he will learn how they play and adjust.

"Otherwise, like any other college basketball coach, I like to run and score a lot of points," he added.

Despite the season starting Thursday, Oct. 19, Vaughan is eager to start recruiting, a job he's more than comfortable with.

He said he will look for a variety of junior college and high school players to replace the 10 seniors who will graduate or lose eligibility at the end of the season.

The team graduated six seniors since winning the North Star Athletic Association conference championship for the 2016-2017 season, a likely goal for the 2017-2018 squad.

"Right away it's a lot, so it's tough to have expectations," Vaughan said. "I don't want to say everything is or isn't (achievable), but if that's the goal, we still have to get better every day. Every day is a process."

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