Derek Selvig has been around basketball all his life.
After all, basketball is generally the sport that seven-footers gravitate towards.
He was six-foot-seven as a freshman in high school and grew an inch every year until he finally stopped growing early in college.
The new Dickinson State men’s basketball coach, who grew up in Glendive, Mont., has experience playing at some of the highest levels, and he hopes his experiences translate into success for his new players.
At the University of Montana, he played in two NCAA tournament games, and then played professionally overseas for two seasons.
“The NCAA tournament was awesome. We had a chance to win my sophomore year. We played New Mexico,” Selvig said. “We were within three points at the end of the game, but they pulled away and won by five. That experience made me think ‘ok we can compete at this national level.’ The confidence you get from playing in that game, and going into the next few years, you think you can compete with anybody.”
Selvig scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in the contest. They led by one at halftime, but the No. 3 seed Lobos rallied to win 62-57 over the No. 14 seed Grizzlies.
Two years later, Montana and Selvig were back in the same position, but this time they were overmatched from the start.
Wisconsin dominated, winning 73-49 and Selvig totaled seven points and four rebounds in his college career ending loss.
(That game brought us) back down to earth I suppose, but it was an awesome experience,” he said.
Professionally, he learned a lot about himself in two years playing in Germany.
Very few people in the town he played in spoke English making it difficult to communicate.
The part of the country he was in though reminded him of home, and he is grateful to have spent the time chasing his dreams.
“Where I was in Germany was kind of right in the middle of the country but considered east Germany and it kind of reminded me of eastern Montana. There was a lot of ag and tractors going... ,” he said. “I tried to pick up the language, but I had a few American teammates and a couple Scottish guys. It was fun and unique.”
Off the court, Selvig is hard to miss due to his height, and he said that twice at a gas station in Dickinson earlier this week, he was asked how tall he is. He even mentioned that he has hit his head on doors before. It can get annoying at times he says, but he also can’t blame anyone for wondering or asking how tall he is if it is the first time they have met him.
While basketball is obviously his passion, since he came back to the states, he has had about one weekend a year where he has been able to go pheasant hunting, and he cherishes that.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, that freed up some time for him and he was able to hit the golf course a little more. He says that he can hit a driver about 300 yards if he hits it well and he enjoys playing the game.
As a Montana Grizzlies fan, and Green Bay Packers fan, he now has a new allegiance and that is to Dickinson State University and the Blue Hawks.
Back on the court, Selvig hopes to build relationships with all of his players before practice and this season starts.
He wants his team to be united and play together which will lead to success.
“Together is the best way to describe how I envision this team playing on offense and defense. I want the ball moving on offense to get the best shot,” he said. “The structure and what we are going to do (on the court), it is going to be a while until practice starts, so I want to get to know the guys.”