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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 24 2012

Three from same high school team offered Bison men's basketball scholarships

FARGO – The North Dakota State men’s basketball team would like to turn Germantown, Wis., into Bisontown East. NDSU has offered a full scholarship to three players on the same team – a rarity in Division I basketball.

Guard Jake Showalter, forward Evan Wesenberg and guard LaMonte Bearden will all be juniors at Germantown, which went 28-0 last year and won the Wisconsin big-school state championship. The 6-foot-2 Showalter and the 6-7 Wesenberg have played together since fourth grade, while the 6-1 Bearden transferred in this summer.

NDSU is the first offer for all three, said Germantown head coach Steve Showalter, the father of Jake Showalter. More are expected, and a college decision by either of the three most likely won’t come until after next season.

NDSU is expected to have five available scholarships for the 2014 recruiting class. The Bison have also extended a scholarship offer to guard Riley LaChance of Brookfield, Wis., according to Rivals.com.

It doesn’t hurt that Bison head coach Saul Phillips and assistant coach Will Ryan have extensive backgrounds in the state. Steve Showalter played for Bo Ryan, Will’s father, at the University of Wisconsin.

“Will was the ball boy when I was there,” he said. “All my guys get along with Saul and Will. It will be a tough decision for my son and probably for the other guys, too.”

NDSU was a recruiting finalist for Zak Showalter, Jake’s older brother, before he chose Wisconsin.

Asked if all three choosing a college as a package deal was a possibility, coach Showalter said Phillips told him NDSU was offering each one individually.

“But, he said, if they all want to come accept and come together, that would be wonderful,” Steve Showalter said. “All are different types of players and all fill different needs on a team.”

That doesn’t bode well for Germantown’s opponents this year. Steve Showalter said the school went 50 years before it produced its first Division I player – forward Ben Averkamp, who will be a senior at Loyola University in Chicago.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546