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Eric Peterson, Published November 20 2012

Moorhead's Lien commits to Dragons men's basketball

MOORHEAD – Aaron Lien will stay close to home, deciding to play men’s basketball for the Dragons. The Moorhead Spuds senior signed at Minnesota State Moorhead on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4 guard, who averaged 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists during his junior season with the Spuds, lives a few minutes away from the MSUM campus.

“We had him targeted for a long time,” said Dragons head coach Chad Walthall, who is in his third season. “The No. 1 thing is he has great character and he’s a terrific basketball player. Then add on to that the fact he is a proven winner and a proven leader.”

Lien said MSUM, North Dakota State and Minnesota-Duluth were his final choices. Both MSUM and Minnesota-Duluth are in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which is an NCAA Division II league.

The Bison are in the Summit League, a Division I conference. Lien said he would have had to walk on at NDSU with a chance to play into a scholarship.

“I really like Walthall. I think he is a great coach,” Lien said. “Ever since Walthall has come to Moorhead, he’s really put a spark in the program. He’s really got things rolling now. They’re one of the top schools right now for the NSIC.”

Lien is the second player the Dragons have inked during the early signing period. MSUM added point guard Malik Wood to the program last week.

Wood is playing at Bismarck State College this season. The 5-foot-10 Wood is averaging 19.2 points per game through six games. Wood will have two years of eligibility left when he joins the Dragons next season.

Walthall thinks Lien is a good fit for the Dragons because of his ability and his intangibles.

“He’s a talented wing,” Walthall said. “He’s a terrific shooter. I really like his pull-up game. He understands how to play the game the right way.”

Lien has 1,197 points entering his senior season at Moorhead High. He is third on the school’s all-time scoring list, just 17 points behind his brother, Erik. Erik Lien is a former Concordia men’s basketball player.

Walthall said the bonus with Aaron Lien is he is a local player who Walthall feels can help build the MSUM fan base.

“We really are trying to make strides to get the community interested in our basketball program,” Walthall said. “This is a huge step toward doing that. I think it can only help generate more interest in our program.”

Lien said staying in Fargo-Moorhead was also a factor in choosing the Dragons.

“I wanted to stay in town,” said Lien, who watched the Dragons play at Concordia on Tuesday night. “I think I fit into their system, their style of play. … I wanted to make my decision earlier rather than later, just so I didn’t have to worry about it during my senior season. Now, I can put all my focus toward the high school season.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com