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Kevin Schnepf, Published August 12 2009

Woodside signs contract with French team

Ben Woodside, North Dakota State’s all-time leading scorer, is heading to France to play basketball.

Woodside signed a contract to play professionally with BCM Gravelines Dunkerque, a team that placed sixth last year in the 16-team Pro A League – the highest league in France. Woodside would not disclose his salary but said he has an option until early September to sign with another team.

For now, it ends Woodside’s bid to play professionally in the NBA. Since last spring – weeks after Woodside helped guide NDSU to the NCAA tournament – Woodside has been working out for numerous NBA teams, including playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves in last month’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Woodside, who went undrafted, turned down an invitation to the Timberwolves training camp this fall.

“I knew I would have to beat out another guy … it would have been tough,” Woodside said. “It wasn’t a good year to be a rookie point guard if you’re not guaranteed any money.”

Woodside leaves Saturday to begin preseason training camp for Gravelines Dunkerque, where he is expected to be the team’s starting point guard. Gravelines Dunkerque’s first game is scheduled for Oct. 3.

“I’m really excited to go over there,” said Woodside, a 5-foot-10 guard from Albert Lea, Minn. “It will be great competition. I want to go over there and play the best that I can and do well for the team. I just look at it as continuing to make steps in my career.”

Gravelines is a seaport town of 12,481, a suburb of Dunkerque, which has a metropolitan area population area of 265,974. Dunkerque is located in northern France, six miles from the Belgium border and across the English Channel.

Woodside becomes the second Bison player to sign a professional contract overseas.

Teammate Brett Winkelman last month signed a contract to play with Edimes Pavia in northern Italy, which competes in the second-highest league of that country. Winkelman, a power forward from Morris, Minn., ended his college career as NDSU’s second all-time leading scorer and all-time leading rebounder.

Teammate Mike Nelson, a guard from Madison, Wis., is also expecting to sign a contract to play professionally overseas.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com