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Bemidji State men's basketball: Alaskan recruit commits to program for upcoming season

The Bemidji State men's basketball program began the NCAA late signing period Thursday by signing Jeff Whicker to a National Letter of Intent.

Whicker, a guard out of Ketchikan, Alaska, will join the team this fall to prepare for the upcoming season.

"I really like the coaches and really like the program they have," Whicker told the Ketchikan Daily News. "It seemed like a good fit for me. ... I'm going to have to work pretty hard, that's for sure."

All signees are contingent upon admission to BSU and compliance with NCAA rules.

"Jeff is an intelligent basketball player that will fit in perfect with our style of play," Bowen said. "He is a versatile player that will play multiple positions for us. He is a hard worker and a great addition to our 2010-11 roster."

He becomes the 13th player to be signed during the late signing period by head coach Matt Bowen during his four years at Bemidji State.

Whicker is the second player that Bowen has ever recruited from outside the lower 48 states.

The guard came to Bowen's attention on a tip from Bowen's father, Rick, who coached at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Whicker's high school coach used to play for Rick Bowen at River Falls in the early 1990s and was impressed by Whicker's play initially at a basketball camp last summer in Ketchikan.

Whicker joins Jake Schalow, a guard out of Sherwood, Wisconsin, as signees for 2010-11. Schalow signed durig the early period in November.

The 2009-10 Beavers closed the season winning five of their last six games, which included a season-long five game winning streak.

BSU finished with a 12-15 overall and 8-12 NSIC record.

The win totals are the best under Bowen and since 2005-06.

The young Beavers fought through growing pains last season to finish strong. BSU graduated one player in star guard Seth Haake.

He was the team's leader and his 18.6 points per game average ranked second in the NSIC. Haake left BSU ranked No. 10 on the all-time scoring list.

Bryce Tesdahl will likely step into Haake's role next year as a junior after starting in all 27 games last season.

Lance Rongstad will return for his sophomore season at forward with Patrick Cassidy working the forward/center roles. Guard Jake Lindstrom will also likely land a starting role. Burke Lendl, Mason Walters and David Berthene will compete for the other starting job.

- Jeff Whicker at a glance: Guard, 5-foot-11, 165, Ketchikan High School

Whicker was a all-Alaska second-team member his senior year, guiding Ketchikan to a 19-7 record ... Named all-conference his senior year after posting 25.5 points and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 53 percent from the field ... He established the new school record for points in a season with 662 ... He owns 12 letters in four different sports: basketball, baseball, swimming and cross country.