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Blue Hawks to add area basketball standouts

Press Photo by Dustin Monke New England guard Nick Wolf, front, and New Town guard Preston Smith, shown during a game in New England on Jan. 6, will both be playing basketball for Dickinson State next season.1 / 2
Photo by Paul Ruhter/Billings (Mont.) Gazette Ryan Sullivan of Sidney, Mont., attempts a shot over Billings Central's Dylan Hanser during on Jan. 14, 2011 in Billings, Mont. Sullivan and his high school teammate, Josh Torgerson, have signed to play men's basketball at Dickinson State.2 / 2

Ty Orton hasn't been this excited about a group of incoming freshmen in the six years he has been at Dickinson State.

The best part, he said, is that all of them are players that fans from North Dakota and Montana should recognize.

On Friday, DSU announced the signings of New Town standout Preston Smith as well as Ryan Sullivan and Josh Torgerson of Sidney, Mont., to NAIA letters of intent.

New England guard Nick Wolf has verbally committed to the Blue Hawks and said he plans to sign early next week.

"We're pretty happy about the freshmen we're going to get coming in," Orton said. "I think it's building a strong foundation.

"That's kind of what we've wanted to do because we're going to add a couple junior college guys. But the foundation of freshmen and kids that are local, know how to play and are good. I really think they're going to develop into something over the years."

Orton said Smith and Sullivan are players who could immediately see time.

Smith was a Class B all-state second team selection for the Eagles, averaging 20.3 points, 14.1 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 4.8 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. The athletic 6-foot-3 dunker helped his team to a third-place state tournament finish as a junior.

"I honestly feel the kid is top five in the state," Orton said. "He's so talented. He knows how to play. He's basketball savvy. His basketball IQ is big. He knows how to play without the ball, knows how to move and cut. He's as athletic as it comes."

Sullivan, a 6-3 forward, averaged 14.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.4 steals a game for Sidney and was a Class A all-state selection.

He was recruited by several other schools in the Frontier Conference and is described by Orton as an intelligent player.

"He's just going to bring that quality of leadership and competitive edge that we need," Orton said. "He won't redshirt. We know that for a fact. He'll put a uniform on."

Torgerson, who may also compete for the DSU track and field team, averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. He was a Montana Eastern A all-conference selection.

Torgerson and Wolf will both likely redshirt their freshman seasons.

"He (Torgerson) is another kid that we wanted to add to the program that we feel, after a year of redshirting, can come in and really separate himself from a lot of kids," Orton said.

While Orton couldn't comment on Wolf because he hasn't signed yet, the New England senior said Friday that he is excited to get back on the floor and work on improving his game.

Wolf, a 6-1 all-Region 7 selection, averaged 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4 steals and 2.6 assists and is viewed by DSU's coaches as a solid defensive player who has a knack for creating his own shot on offense.

"I just want to get more physical right now, get a little bit bigger and just play my part, my role on the team," Wolf said. "As long as we win, I could care less what I average."

Kaine Hanson, a 6-4 forward from New England who was the Region 7 senior athlete of the year, had originally given a verbal commitment to DSU but recently decided to pursue other education opportunities.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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