Five seniors, five different paths to SDSU

AUSTIN HAMM Sports Editor

In my four years at South Dakota State University, I’ve seen several different manifestations of the SDSU men’s basketball team.

As a freshman, I saw Nate Wolters’ senior year and watched them play a Michigan squad in the NCAA Tournament that featured Trey Burke and went all the way to the championship game. I also saw a true freshman from Bixby, Oklahoma enter the stage for the first time.

My sophomore year, we began life without Nate and took a noticeable step back as key players attempted to fill star roles and Florida transfer Cody Larson adjusted to life back in South Dakota. But another Sioux Falls native transferred in that year, too, from Division II University of Sioux Falls, even if it came with less fanfare.

 Last year, a high-scoring shooting guard came from the Junior College ranks and fired up Jackrabbit fans. The excitement only increased with the second-semester debut of a Wisconsin transfer who had been highly recruited out of Chicago.

 And through it all, a backup from Viborg, South Dakota did yeoman’s work in practice and eventually became part of the glue that held the team together.

 The five seniors who will be recognized Saturday after the Oral Roberts game all took very different paths to the end of the road in Frost Arena.

 That freshman from Bixby is Jake Bittle, who got his first collegiate start at the University of Minnesota in place of an injured Wolters that first season. In his four years, he has turned into an elite perimeter defender and a key cog in Head Coach Scott Nagy’s team who can affect the game without scoring.

 That USF transfer? That’s Keaton Moffitt, the O’Gorman High School (Sioux Falls) graduate who came to SDSU to continue his pursuit of becoming a pharmacist and has made the most of the opportunity to test his skills at this level. Moffitt comes off the bench most nights, but often finds himself inserted into the starting lineup when one of the backcourt starters is injured.

And speaking of those backcourt starters, they would be Deondre Parks, who transferred from Iowa Lakes College, and George Marshall, who came to Brookings via Wisconsin.

All Parks did in his first season was lead the team in scoring while being named the Summit League Newcomer of the Year and a All-Summit League First Team member.

 Marshall had an adjustment period after sitting out all first semester games last year due to transfer rules but eventually found his groove as the starting point guard, culminating with a 24-point, six-assist performance in the program’s first Division I postseason win at Colorado State in the National Invitation Tournament.

 Cory Jacobsen is the Viborg walk-on and the heart of the team who has spent the most time at SDSU as he reaches the end of his fifth year.

These five have had a variety of journeys and helped this program to reach new heights in a variety of ways. Their value cannot be overstated and hopefully they get the chance to go out in style. And with the Summit League tournament looming, they have the chance to do just that.