Nathaniel Huot already knew he was going to Southwest Minnesota State University. The 2012 boys' basketball Independent Player of the Year from Dawson-Boyd High School had previously signed a letter of intent on Feb. 6 to play football for the Mustangs. On Monday, SMSU head coach Brad Bigler announced that Huot had signed to play basketball for the Mustangs as well.
"Playing college basketball has always been a dream of mine, and being able to sign with SMSU for both was really great," Huot said.
An all-area first team selection in 2013, Huot knocked down 101 3-pointers on his way to averaging 17.8 points for the Blackjacks. Dawson-Boyd, ranked in the top 10 of Class A for much of the season, fell to eventual state champion Southwest Minnesota Christian in the Section 3A finals for the second consecutive year.
Dawson-Boyd senior Nathaniel Huot, left, stands next to Southwest Minnesota State men’s basketball coach Brad Bigler last Wednesday after signing a letter of intent to continue his basketball career with the Mustangs.
"Nate has always been a guy that has intrigued us because of his ability to shoot from 3-point range," Bigler said in a statement released by SMSU. "He made over 100 3-point shots this past season and is one of the best, if not the best, 3-point shooter in southwest Minnesota."
Due to his commitment to the SMSU football team, Huot will likely redshirt for the basketball team his freshman year, though Bigler said that has little to due with his preparedness for the collegiate game.
"Coach (Cory) Larson at Dawson-Boyd does a great job and we know he has prepared Nate well for college," Bigler said. "Nate is physically ready for the next level. With him playing football it will be in his best interest to redshirt next year. We will lose three perimeter players to graduation and he'll be ready to compete the following year."
Huot said that his passing and athleticism should also help him adjust to the college game, while stating that the redshirt season will allow him to get fully acclimated to life not just as a college athlete, but as a two-sport college athlete.
"Personally, I'm pretty happy with being able to redshirt, especially with playing two sports," Huot said. "I'll be able to get the hang of things like prioritizing my time. I'll be able to get our basketball workouts in while doing our football stuff as well, and of course the schooling will be big. The redshirting will be good because I'll be able to get a whole year of workouts and practices in before I actually play."
SMSU graduated six seniors from a team that finished seventh in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 13-9 record. Notable among the graduations were guards Tramel Barnes, Jordan Buddenhagen and Jordan Miller, as well as athletic forward Lavione West.
Along with the six seniors graduating in 2013, the Mustangs will lose four more players in 2014. Included in the departures next year will be perimeter players William Giddings, Matt Zager and Vinard Birch.
With five guards graduating in a two-year stretch, there will be plenty of playing time to go around for the younger ball-handlers on the SMSU roster. Huot hopes to take advantage of the job openings once his redshirt season comes to an end.
"I'm very excited. I know me and Coach Bigler had talked about that too, about the redshirting part of it and how it should work out even better because I'll be able to have a year of practicing with those guys, those lead guys, those starting guards," Huot said. "Hopefully in this upcoming year and the following year I'll be able to prove myself and get some time on the court."
The Mustangs, who finished the 2012-13 season with a 16-14 overall record, will also welcome MJ Delmore to the squad next season. Delmore, a 5-foot-10 guard from Wisconsin Dells, Wis., took advantage of the early signing period in November to endorse his commitment to the Mustangs. During his senior season, Delmore poured in 555 points and collected 120 assists while on his way to all-conference and all-state honors. Delmore scored 1,356 points during his career and was selected to play in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 3 All-Star game. Division 3 is equivalent to Class AAA in Minnesota.
"In this recruiting class it was important to bring in shooters," Bigler said. "Both MJ and Nate shoot it at a high level. We will continue to look for a forward to add depth. We are excited about this year's redshirts and we see all five of them being a big part of next year's success. Their development was a lot of fun to watch during the course of this past season."