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Heath Hotzler, Published July 21 2009

Former MSUM basketball player Jared Bledsoe to coach Oak Grove girls

Former Minnesota State Moorhead standout Jared Bledsoe will take over as the head girls basketball coach at Fargo Oak Grove.

Oak Grove announced Monday that Bledsoe will replace Darren Rogness, who coached the Grovers the past two seasons.

“I am excited,” said Bledsoe, who has played professionally in Saudi Arabia, China and the United States. “… We’ll be looking to rebuild, to build a successful program over there. It’s a true honor and a blessing to able to work with the kids over there.”

Bledsoe was a reliable scoring threat for MSUM for two seasons after transferring from NCAA Division I Tennessee-Martin in 2001.

He helped the Dragons to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament finals as the No. 7 seed in 2003.

Bledsoe is MSUM’s single-season steals leader with 73 as a senior in 2002-03. He was a student assistant for Dragons coach Stu Engen for one season.

Bledsoe played professionally in the International Basketball Association, Continental Basketball Association and the Saudi Premier Basketball League.

He formed The Next Level Basketball Academy in Fargo several years ago to train players as young as fourth-graders to as old as college players.

Bledsoe said he worked with several Oak Grove players when he coached a traveling team this summer.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the kids over at Oak Grove,” he said. “The administration and the parents have been very, very supportive. That makes it very exciting.”

Bledsoe said he had offers to resume his professional career in the American Basketball Association or in Australia.

But he said the Oak Grove job was the perfect fit, and it was the perfect time for him to begin his coaching career.

The Grovers were defeated in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota, Class B District 2 tournament last year.

“The (Oak Grove) kids are very responsive,” Bledsoe said. “One thing I learned is that you can’t teach passion or desire.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com