Kessel, Fries, Laufer to play at BSC

Geographic consensus made Bismarck State College the right choice for Dickinson's Jesse Kessel, Mott-Regent's Nate Fries and Hettinger-Scranton's Ben Laufer.

Jesse Kessel
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson High senior Jesse Kessel signs his letter of intent to play basketball for Bismarck State College on Wednesday at Dickinson High School. The Mystics also signed area players Mott-Regent's Nate Fries and Hettinger-Scranton's Ben Laufer.

Geographic consensus made Bismarck State College the right choice for Dickinson's Jesse Kessel, Mott-Regent's Nate Fries and Hettinger-Scranton's Ben Laufer.

The three players will take their basketball talents east, signing with the Mystics on Wednesday.

"We're really excited about all three of them," BSC head coach Jason Harris said. "You always want to get the best players you can."

Harris is getting three players who were among the scoring leaders in Class B's Region 7 and Class A's West Region.

Kessel, who played for Dickinson High, led his team averaging 17.8 points per game. The senior nearly helped the Midgets to state tournament berth, but fell short of the goal losing to Bismarck High and Bismarck Century.


"The main thing I was looking for was a winning program and players that love the game like I do," Kessel said.

Wildfire center Nate Fries averaged 14.6 points and more than 10 rebounds per game, had a huge performance in the District 13 Tournament's region-qualifier victory over Beach just to get his team into the Region 7 Tournament, but was forced to sit out regionals because an injured knee.

The 6-foot-6 center is eager to get back on the court.

"I'm very excited, especially since I didn't get to finish out my senior year," Fries said. "I'm pretty excited to get to play."

Laufer's Night Hawks went through a dramatic season. On Jan. 13, the team's bus rolled while negotiating a curve near New England. Laufer finished the season averaging 17.8 points per game. The Night Hawks captain will also be playing baseball at BSC.

"I just kind of want to play at the next level to see what it was like," Laufer said. "I kind of missed out on my senior year with the bus accident and all."

All three players have subtle reasons why they are going to BSC, between family, friends and coaches that have had success playing for the Mystics.

Mott-Regent head coach Wayne Heckman played basketball for BSC before moving on to Dickinson State. Fries said that was a big reason why he chose to sign there. He also had an offer from DSU.


"I've talked to some people that have played up there and my coach played there," Fries said. "I've got family up in Bismarck and I just like Bismarck."

Kessel was looking at a couple junior colleges, but getting the chance to play in front of his his family was something he didn't want to give up.

"That was huge," Kessel said. "My grandpa loves BSC basketball. That was a huge impact and we've got at least nine games at home."

Harris believe the southwest North Dakota trio can make early impacts for the team that ranked fourth in the nation in scoring last season and returns several of its standouts.

"He's (Kessel) a kid that plays hard and that's a kid that we look for," Harris said. "He fits in to what we do at Bismarck State.

"I actually think he (Nate) can shoot the ball a lot better than most people think. We will expand that part of the game when he gets to us."

Fries and Laufer were texting each other throughout the day and both said they are excited to step on the floor as teammates.

"It will be interesting because I played against Nate my whole life," Laufer said. "It will be kind of nice to play with him for once. I never really played with Kessel, but I know he's a pretty good ballplayer."


Though Fries and Laufer might not have played in games against Kessel, Fries said he has played with Kessel at the West River Community Center.

"We would play scrimmages up at the rec center," Fries said. "I kind of know him and I know he's a really good point guard, so that will be really exciting."

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