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Three guards sign with NDSU men's basketball

FARGO—The North Dakota State men's basketball program got its guard up during the NCAA early signing period on Wednesday. The Bison signed three backcourt players to letters of intent.

Two are from a prime recruiting territory in the Twin Cities and another is from just across the border in Wisconsin.

"Those guys understand the background, history and tradition of North Dakota State," said head coach Dave Richman.

Those guys are Jarius Cook from Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, Minn., and Vinnie Shahid from Western Nebraska Community College. Shahid went to high school at Hopkins. NDSU also landed 6-foot-5 shooter Jaxon Knotek from River Falls, Wis.

In Cook, the Bison won a battle that included Northern Iowa, which is a rare recruiting victory for the Summit League Bison against a Missouri Valley program. The 6-2 Cook averaged 15 points as a junior and is a player whom Richman called "a special talent."

The 5-11 Shahid played on a Hopkins state title team in 2016. He averaged 15 points and 4 assists as a freshman at Western Nebraska.

"Everybody knows Vinnie in the Twin Cities," Richman said.

The Bison women signed 5-10 guard Reagan Heun from Spring Branch, Texas. With large recruiting classes in the last couple of years, NDSU stayed thin on numbers for this class.

The Bison men open their season on the road this weekend in California at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday and at Southern California on Monday. The women, meanwhile, open their season at home this weekend hosting Mayville State on Friday and New Jersey Institute of Technology on Sunday.

"The opportunity to get things started this weekend is exciting," said head coach Maren Walseth. "For us, the offensive execution and defensive intensity and urgency are the day-to-day things we continue to look at."

It was a recruiting day for six sports. From the region, notable NDSU signings included Detroit Lakes, Minn., golfer Maddie Herzog, West Fargo volleyball standout Kalli Hegerle and baseball player Spencer Gillund from Enderlin, N.D., who is currently at Bismarck State College.

Hegerle and volleyball recruit Kirstin Tidd from Verona, Wis., both have fathers who played football at NDSU. Erik Hegerle was a safety in the 1990s and Ray Tidd was a tight end from 1978-81.

"One of the things is their excitement about the volleyball program and Bison athletics as a whole," said NDSU head coach Jennifer Lopez. "It says a lot about who they are."

Gillund had a standout first season at BSC and a good summer in the Northwoods League.

"He was highly recruited with a number of options," said head baseball coach Tod Brown. "For him to stay home, it was a great fit for him and for us."

Here is complete list of NDSU's signings on Wednesday:

Men's basketball: Jarius Cook, 6-2, G, Brooklyn Park, Minn. Jaxon Knotek, 6-5, G, River Falls, Wis. Vinnie Shahid, 5-11, G, Western Nebraska CC.

Women's basketball: Reagan Heun, 5-10, G, Spring Branch, Texas.

Men's golf: Jed Baranczyk, Green Bay, Wis.

Women's golf: Maddie Herzog, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Baseball: Brock Anderson, P, Alexandria, Minn. Peter Brookshaw, INF, Prescott, Wis. Spencer Gillund, INF, Bismarck State College. Barron Holtz, P, Plainview, Minn. Austin Nikolas, P, St. Cloud, Minn. Ben Smith, P, South St. Paul, Minn. Ben Tallman, C/OF, Billings, Mont.

Softball: Paige Vargas, P, Mission Viejo, Calif. Avery Wysong, C/OF, Beaver Creek, Minn. Nicole Licea, INF, Corona, Calif.

Volleyball: Kalli Hegerle, 6-0, S, West Fargo. Ally Murphy, 6-1, OH, Eagan, Minn. Kirstin Tidd, 6-1, MH, Verona, Wis.

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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