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On the court, Shevlin’s style has impressed at DSU; the hard part was getting him here

Jerry Shevlin's Dickinson State career officially became a sure thing in an IHOP in Santa Monica, Calif., eight months ago, in April. After a year-long courtship of on and off contact, Blue Hawk head coach Justin Wetzel happened to be in the Los ...

Dickinson State guard Jerry Shevlin makes a pass against Montana Tech on Nov. 5th at Scott Gymnasium. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press
Dickinson State guard Jerry Shevlin makes a pass against Montana Tech on Nov. 5th at Scott Gymnasium. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press

Jerry Shevlin's Dickinson State career officially became a sure thing in an IHOP in Santa Monica, Calif., eight months ago, in April.

After a year-long courtship of on and off contact, Blue Hawk head coach Justin Wetzel happened to be in the Los Angeles area for a junior college event.

Two weeks earlier, Shevlin had come to visit Dickinson, and asked for a little bit more time to make a decision.

So Wetzel leveraged; he would be in his neck of the woods soon.

"I said, 'Well, I'm going to be down in two weeks. I'm going to bring papers with me, we're going to have breakfast, and you're going to tell me if you're in or out,'" Wetzel recalled. "We talked about things, some of his goals and aspirations. I told him it would be a chance to see a new part of the world."

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If he wanted to sign, the bottom line was right there. If he didn't, that was OK, too, but it had to happen sooner than later.

Shevlin, who was in the midst of a year-long basketball hiatus once his JuCo eligibility ran out in 2015, decided he'd like the situation here and inked his name.

That ended one of the more roundabout recruiting processes Wetzel had been involved in.

It started about a year earlier, when Shevlin's time at Santa Monica Community College was up. Among the suitors for the 6-foot-5 guard were a couple of mid-major NCAA Division I schools and a few local Division II schools.

The intrigue with DSU was there from the start, and once the NCAA ruled him ineligible because of a "miscommunication," Shevlin explained, he figured he'd visit Dickinson.

This was during the summer of 2015 - late in the recruiting process for a player potentially getting ready to suit up for the Blue Hawks in a matter of months.

Nonetheless, a plan was made; Shevlin would fly to Billings, Mont., and make his way here from there.

But on the morning of, when Wetzel gave him a call, it was bad news.

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He had made it to LAX airport, but he left something behind.

"My original flight here, I was all packed up and ready to go, and when I arrived at the airport, I was looking for my wallet, I couldn't find it," Shevlin said. "I didn't have my ID on me, but I still tried to check in. The lady told me I should be alright as long as I give them real information - street address, stuff like that - but for some reason they said my info didn't match."

From that point on, it was too late in the offseason and too much of a hassle to reconfigure all the moving pieces. Though still interested in the cerebral, low-keyed guard, Wetzel had another player waiting for a response, and had to move on from him.

"It just kind of became a logistic nightmare. That was kind of it for Jerry going into last season," Wetzel said. "I said, 'I got to move on someone. Sorry.' I didn't think he was a bad kid, but it was kind of like, 'Well, the kid missed his flight and lost his ID.' It wasn't a death sentence, it just made my decision a little bit easier."

So, for the 2015-16 season at least, that was that. Shevlin spent the calendar basketball year "on ice," working out and going to school part-time.

But Wetzel, knowing the caliber of Shevlin as a player and the nature of him as a person, remained interested, keeping in contact partly through the recruitment of current DSU guard Carter Gallo, who went to the same JuCo as Shevlin.

And this past Spring, Shevlin, short on options at this point, again made the trip to LAX, meeting Gallo at the check-in line.

"Even just standing in line - I got to the airport first, you know, you want to be there a little bit early - he cut it close," said Gallo, laughing. "I was making jokes, you know, 'Make sure you don't forget anything, man.'"

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A few weeks later, Shevlin and Wetzel met at the IHOP in Santa Monica.

On offense, no rush

If navigating through a lost wallet and a delayed signature was the hard part, the reward for Wetzel has been the junior's first stretch of games this season at DSU.

Off the court, Shevlin is "exceptional, soft-spoken," Wetzel explained, a reserved thinker in a 6-foot-5 frame.

On the court, he is an improvisor. A crafty, over-sized guard whose slow and sometimes methodical style of command is simply an offshoot of his personality.

He seems to always start with a vague notion of what to do with the ball and seems to always end with a productive shot for himself or a teammate.

"He likes to see floor. He's aggressive, unselfish, smooth, all at the same time," said Gallo, who spent one season as a teammate with Shevlin at SMCC before reuniting here. "He can run up and down, he definitely can also slow it down. He's a great guy to play with. If you're open, he'll find you."

In 10 games so far, mostly in a sixth-man role, Shevlin has a 12.4 per game scoring average - second on the team - to go with a team-high 2.7 assists per game. His efficiency - 56.8 percent from the field, 51.9 percent from the 3-point line - is a product of his basketball know-how - when to shoot, when to pass.

With Shevlin coming off the bench, Wetzel sees a James Harden-Oklahoma City type of situation. A surplus of time to survey the game before becoming a part of it, said Wetzel, gives the guard more of a chance to soak in the opposing defenses, and a little more leeway to think on his feet.

"He's got a very crafty game. It's not conventional. It's not the catch and rip and drive. He surveys. Where it looks like he stops the ball, or it looks like he's going at a slower pace, he's really just thinking," Wetzel said. "It's almost like he's moving in slow motion sometimes, but he's very cerebral. You've got to live with that as a coach. You're going to have to live with some things because it's an unconventional style a player like him brings."

This past weekend, Shevlin was named the conference player of the week. In two back-to-back North Star Athletic Association games, he scored 21 on 5 of 7 shooting in a three-point win over Jamestown, then dropped 16 on 6 of 9 shooting in a blowout over Mayville State.

From the shores of Santa Monica to Dickinson, the most important thing for Shevlin in wherever he wound up was that he'd be able to focus on basketball.

In a new sixth-man role in a new town on a new team with an eclectic mix of players, he feels it's starting to come together for DSU, which is in the midst of a four-game win streak.

"We're all pretty talented. The off-the-court bond has been better. This is my first time away from home, and we all come from all these different places, so we're all our closest group of friends out here," he said. "It's pretty cool to just be able to hang out with the guys. I think it's starting to transfer to the court."

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