Summit League will be competitive next season


Justin Kozar

While the Summit League usually sends one team to the NCAA tournament each year, the conference has shown improvement over the past few years. By next year, fans could witness an at-large bid coming out of the Summit League conference based on new talent. 

Beginning in fall 2013, the Summit League will add the University of Denver to its conference. Each team will receive new recruitment that could help improve its chance to reach the Big Dance.  

The Pioneers will add even more competition to the race for next year’s Summit League title. In the Western Athletic Conference, the Pioneers finished off the season with a 21-9 regular season record including a 16-2 in conference play.  

After a disappointing loss to Texas State in the WAC championship, the Pioneers received a third seed for the NIT. After beating the No. 6 seeded Ohio Bobcats in the first round, the Pioneers ended their season after losing to  No. 2 seeded Maryland on Thursday night. However, Denver proved that it has the potential to be a major threat for years to come in the Summit League.   

The Pioneers will return with their top two scorers, while senior Chase Hallam will be the only senior leaving the team next year. Sophomore Royce O’Neale and junior Chris Udofia will provide leadership and can send Denver to the NCAA tournament.  

Watch out for the Pioneers, as they will definitely be a favorite to take next year’s Summit League championship.

 The Summit League has been considered a smaller conference compared to those that send multiple teams to the NCAA tournament. However, there’s one player who will hopefully take his talents to the NBA after four strong seasons at South Dakota State. 

Nate Wolters finished his college career on Thursday night after the Jackrabbits fell to Michigan in the NCAA tournament. Wolters led the Jackrabbits to their first NCAA tournament bid in 2012, and did the same this year after South Dakota State defeated North Dakota State in the Summit League title game. 

Wolters was fourth in the nation in scoring with 22.7 points per game, and averaged 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. According to the NBA mock draft, Wolters will be chosen in the second round. Wolters is a great example of pure talent that can emerge out of the Summit League.

In order to replace the seniors who are ending their college careers, each team is responsible for finding the best recruitment that can help them succeed. The Summit League was on the hunt in the fall to see who can help the conference gain more national recognition. 

South Dakota State needed to sign a guard to replace Wolters, and signed Anders Broman of Duluth, Minn. Broman will need to step up if the Jackrabbits want to return to the tournament for a third straight year. 

Western Illinois will have many seniors leaving the program including Terell Parks, Ceola Clark, Jack Houpt and Don McAvoy. This year, the Leathernecks gained Garrett Covington from Edwardsville, Ill., who is known for his mid-range shooting skills.

Oakland might be another team to look out for in 2013. The Golden Grizzlies still have their leading scorer Travis Brader for next season, and have signed three more recruits for next year. Kahlil Felder, Jalen Hayes and Nick Daniels are all two star recruits that could send the Golden Grizzlies to the 2014 NCAA tournament. 

The 2013-2014 men’s basketball regular season looks promising for the Summit League. With new recruits on the way and the University of Denver arriving next season, the Summit League will be a lot more competitive.