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Hitting The Hardwood: Men’s Basketball Preview

Get prepared for the hoops season with this men’s basketball preview. The Fighting Hawks return eight players from the 2017-18 team.

Men's basketball preview

Photos By Russell Hons Photography

Get prepared for the hoops season with this men’s basketball preview.

The Schedule

Starred games are considered to be marquee games by Fighting Hawks Magazine.

NOV 6 Northland College (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

NOV 10 at Milwaukee (Milwaukee, Wis.) 6:00 p.m.

* NOV 14 vs Kentucky – Ohio River Valley Showcase (Lexington, Ky.) 8:00 p.m.

NOV 17 vs Minnesota Morris – Ohio River Valley Showcase (Grand Forks, N.D.) 3:00 p.m.

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NOV 20 vs Concordia University (Neb.) – Ohio River Valley Showcase (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

NOV 24 at Utah Valley (Orem, Utah) TBA

* NOV 27 at Montana State (Bozeman, Mont.) 8:00 p.m.

DEC 1 vs Idaho (Grand Forks, N.D.) 3:00 p.m.

* DEC 5 at UT Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg, Texas) 7:00 p.m.

* DEC 9 vs Milwaukee (Grand Forks, N.D.) 3:00 p.m.

DEC 14 vs Mayville State (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

* DEC 18 at Marquette (Milwaukee, Wis.) 8:00 p.m.

* DEC 22 at Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa) TBA

DEC 28 vs Purdue Fort Wayne (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

JAN 3 at Oral Roberts (Tulsa, Okla.) 7:00 p.m.

JAN 5 at Denver (Denver, Colo.) 2:00 p.m.

JAN 10 vs Omaha (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

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JAN 12 vs Western Illinois (Grand Forks, N.D.) 2:00 p.m.

* JAN 16 vs South Dakota State (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

* JAN 19 at North Dakota State (Fargo, N.D.) 2:00 p.m.

JAN 23 vs South Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

JAN 31 at Western Illinois (Macomb, Ill.) TBA

FEB 3 at Omaha (Omaha, Neb.) 12:00 p.m.

* FEB 6 vs North Dakota State (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

* FEB 9 at South Dakota State (Brookings, S.D.) 4:15 p.m.

FEB 16 vs Oral Roberts (Grand Forks, N.D.) 7:00 p.m.

FEB 23 vs Denver (Grand Forks, N.D.) 3:00 p.m.

FEB 28 at Purdue Fort Wayne (Fort Wayne, Ind.) 7:30 p.m.

MAR 2 at South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.) 3:30 p.m.

MAR 9-MAR 12 – Summit League Tournament (Sioux Falls, S.D.)

The Players

The Fighting Hawks return eight players from the 2017-18 team. They will also welcome five incoming freshmen. While they only feature two seniors throughout their roster, North Dakota will have a bevy of juniors and sophomores to rely upon.

Preseason Recognition

  • The Fighting Hawks were picked to finish seventh in their inaugural Summit League preseason poll.

Top Returners

Men's basketball player Cortez Seales
Cortez Seales is one of two seniors for North Dakota in 2018-19. Seales averaged just under nine points per game last season.

Cortez Seales
Senior
Eldridge, Iowa
Seales returns as one of the top players for the Fighting Hawks this season. With his offensive efficiency and leadership skills, Seales will need to be at the forefront if North Dakota hopes to be successful. He comes off a season where he averaged nine points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field.

Men's basketball player Conner Avants
Conner Avants rounds out the senior class for this year’s team. Avants poured in 11.6 points and six rebounds per game in 2017-18.

Conner Avants
Senior
Edmond, Oklahoma
Avants provides a needed post presence in a physical Summit League gauntlet. Averaging 11 points and six rebounds a game last season, the Oklahoma native will need to see an uptick in his scoring and rebounding this season. With notorious post players across the Summit League, Avants will need to be rock solid.

Kienan Walter
Junior
Vancouver, Washington
In a shifting basketball landscape, Walter fits in nicely as what is referred to as a stretch-four position. His ability to expand the floor with size and shooting ability leaves the paint open for Conner Avants to work down low. Walters was the leading reserve for Brian Jones last season, averaging nearly five points per game. He was efficient as well, shooting 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from long range.

Aanen Moody
Redshirt Freshman
Dickinson, North Dakota
The former Mr. Basketball winner in North Dakota sat out last season as a redshirt. Now, with more muscle put on, he looks to become an electrifying offensive presence for UND.

Notable Newcomers

Flilip Rebraca
Sophomore
Sombor, Serbia

Davids Atelbauers
Freshman
Ogre, Latvia

Marko Coudreau
Freshman
Marseille, France

The Coach

Brian Jones is ready to embark on what will be his 13th season as head coach of North Dakota men’s basketball. Jones was named Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2016-17 after a 22-10 record and an NCAA Tournament berth, the program’s first at the Division I level. Jones was the coach that guided the team from Division II to Division I in 2008 and has seen seven seasons of at least a .500 record or better. This included a Big Sky championship in 2016-17 and two Great West championships in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Jones By The Year

  • 2006-07 – 11-17 (3-10)
  • 2007-08 – 15-15 (2-10)
  • 2008-09 – 16-12 (0-0)
  • 2009-10 – 8-23 (5-7)
  • 2010-11 – 19-15 (8-4) – Great West Champions
  • 2011-12 – 17-15 (6-4) – Great West Champions
  • 2012-13 – 16-17 (12-8)
  • 2013-14 – 17-17 (12-8)
  • 2014-15 – 8-22 (4-12)
  • 2015-16 – 17-16 (10-8)
  • 2016-17 – 22-10 (14-4) – Big Sky Champions, NCAA Tournament Bid
  • 2017-18 – 12-20 (6-11)
  • 12 Season Totals: 178-199 (82-86 in conference)

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Written by Nolan Schmidt

Nolan is the Editor of Fighting Hawks Magazine. He is originally from Bismarck, ND and is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead. Outside of work, Nolan loves to write fiction short stories, among other things.

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