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  • Nate Wolters: NBA Draft Prospect and HUGE Twins Fan

    Tonight in New York, the NBA will hold its annual player draft. In Minnesota, the talk is of Flip Saunders and which direction he will choose to lead the Wolves in his first draft. For St. Cloud native Nate Wolters, it will be one of the most important nights of his life. The 6-5 point guard, who played his prep hoops at St. Cloud Tech and college ball for the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State, is expected to be drafted sometime between the late first round and the middle of the second round.

    Nate Wolters is also a huge fan of the Minnesota Twins. Recently, I had the chance to chat with Wolters about the draft, his collegiate career, and his Twins fandom!

    Wolters said, “I went to a couple of Twins games every year growing up. Torii Hunter was my favorite player as a kid. I’ve always been a big Twins fan, but the last couple of years, I started watching just about every game even though it has been tough to watch at times!”

    So, what is it about baseball and the Twins that Wolters really enjoys? “I love following the Twins because they play every day. They lose one game and don’t have to wait long to see them play again! (It’s) not like the Vikings’ losses where you’ve got to think about it for the whole week!”

    He added, “The Twins just seem like a good group of guys and are easy to root for. Even though they were supposed to really struggle this year, they are only six or seven back and anything can happen in baseball.”

    We’ll put him on the spot with some more baseball questions later in this article, but Wolters is about to become a member of the National Basketball Association tonight, so let’s talk some hoops. He was an all-state basketball performer at St. Cloud Tech where he didn’t play baseball. “I actually played tennis as a spring sport. I played baseball until, like, 6th grade, but I was terrible at it so I thought I should stick to basketball.”

    I think it’s fair to say that he made the right choice for himself.

    “Basketball has always been my favorite sport and something I spent most of my time doing.” The always-humble Wolters continued, “I was always a good player for my grade. I knew I could possibly have a chance to play in college if I worked hard enough.”

    He got that opportunity and became a Jackrabbit. “I picked South Dakota State because I wanted to have the opportunity to play Division I basketball. I loved the coaching staff! Coach Nagy gave me a ton of freedom and had a lot of confidence in me, so I knew I would have the chance to play right away.”

    As a freshman, he averaged 24 minutes and scored 10.5 points. He scored 19.5 per game as a sophomore, 21.2 points per game as a junior, and as a senior, he averaged 22.3. In those three years, the point guard averaged 6.1, 5.8, and 5.7 assists per game (which led the Summit League each year). He shot 46% overall as a senior and 38% from three point range. He shot over 81% from the free throw line.

    “I had a great experience there, and making the NCAA tourney the last two years was really special for the whole state of South Dakota and the program.”



    As well as he and his Jackrabbit teams played, there are always questions about the level of competition.

    “Coming from a mid-major like South Dakota State, I really never thought I would be in the position I am in today. Our team success has given me a lot of recognition that I otherwise would not get.”

    Since the end of the college season, he has been very busy. “I have had twelve team workouts with NBA teams. It’s been a ton of travel, but it has been an amazing experience. I’m hoping it will all payoff on Thursday.”

    I had put Wolters’ Twins knowledge to the test, and he passed! I asked him about the Twins farm system and future. He said, “I don’t know all the minor league guys like you, but heard great things about the farm system. I can’t wait for Buxton and Sano to come up. The future looks really bright with Arcia, Hicks, Buxton and Sano. It will be interesting to see how Gibson does the rest of the season and how Meyer, Berrios and May develop.”

    Wolters brought up another point that I really appreciate. “I definitely have a ton of respect for baseball players. They go through so many years in the minors to finally make it to the majors. It has to be very satisfying.”

    A friend of his understands well how long and full of ups and downs that process can be. “I’m so happy for Caleb Thielber, who is a friend of mine. (It took) Lots of hard work and dedication by him to get to where he is. He is making the most of it.”

    The hope from Wolters would be not to have to endure that! “My goal is to go in the first round. But, whatever happens, I just want to go to a team that is a good fit and somewhere that I can grow as a basketball player.”

    I am a guy who enjoys watching drafts. Obviously here at Twins Daily, we put a lot of time and effort into the MLB draft. Although basketball and football don’t pique my interest in the same way as baseball, I can still watch their drafts start to finish. Getting to know an NBA draft prospect from the area who happens to be a huge Twins fan gives us another reason to watch.

    When will Nate Wolters be drafted? In looking at several mock drafts and rankings, I have seen him taken anywhere from 21st overall to 46th. There seems to be little question that he will be drafted, and his goal of being a first rounder if certainly very possible. Regardless, it is great to see a guy get an opportunity to live out his dream.

    Hopefully he’ll be drafted in the first round and go to a place where he’ll get a great opportunity. Twins Daily would like to wish him the best on Thursday night. And who knows? Maybe we’ll be able to see him at some Twins games the rest of this summer!
    This article was originally published in blog: Nate Wolters: NBA Draft Prospect and HUGE Twins Fan started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Kirby Puckett's Avatar
      Kirby Puckett -
      I go to South Dakota State and got to watch Wolters play this year. I'm from Indiana, where basketball reigns king, and I swear that I have never seen as pure of a shooter as Nate Wolters. He is most comparable to Jimmy Chitwood in the movie Hoosiers; great scorer, confident but by no means flashy, and a pass-first mentality. That particular skill set (combined with being a 6'5 white guy from St. Cloud) doesn't exactly mark him for stardom in the NBA, but I really hope that he finds a home somewhere, he was a great player to get to watch.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Thanks for the note... I just think it's a great story. Always fun to root for the local guys, especially those that go to the smaller schools.
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      As an SDSU alum, I really hope the best for him. You gotta love the underdog stories and root that they make it.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I assume that there are a lot of SD Twins fans, as I believe they are the TV team throughout the entire state?
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I assume that there are a lot of SD Twins fans, as I believe they are the TV team throughout the entire state?
      When I lived in Rapid City, I was able to get both FSN and whatever the Rockies played on. But there are a ton of SD Twins fans. They had eastern Montana and Wyoming up until the Rockies came into existance.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I assume that there are a lot of SD Twins fans, as I believe they are the TV team throughout the entire state?
      Depends on where in the state you are. Western SD is Rockies, and there is a piece of the state where the Royals are carried on the local radio station. The Cubs are also well-represented long-term in the state.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      My baby brother does live blogging for the SDSU student newspaper from games, so he was able to travel with the team a lot this year. He's a big fan of Wolters' skillset, comparing him with a shorter Mike Miller, another guy with South Dakota roots whose had a nice NBA career, on the shooting side, but the ability to run the point as well.
    1. drunksam's Avatar
      drunksam -
      Quote Originally Posted by zenser View Post
      When I lived in Rapid City, I was able to get both FSN and whatever the Rockies played on. But there are a ton of SD Twins fans. They had eastern Montana and Wyoming up until the Rockies came into existance.
      ROOT sports rockie mountain.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Drafted with the 38th overall pick, by the Washington Wizards... will be traded to the 76ers!! Congratulations!
    1. rukavina's Avatar
      rukavina -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Drafted with the 38th overall pick, by the Washington Wizards... will be traded to the 76ers!! Congratulations!
      and then to the Bucks. Let's hope he's luke ridenour-like.
    1. Kirby Puckett's Avatar
      Kirby Puckett -
      There were quite a few Twins fans in Brookings, but not a whole lot of baseball fans in general. I liked being able to catch every Twins game on cable for the first time though, all we get in the Reds in Indiana.
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