N.D. teen has pick of major colleges
KILLDEER, N.D. ” This small western North Dakota town is home to one of the state’s oldest rodeos, good hunting and a high school basketball player who is perhaps the state’s mostly highly sought college recruit in the past 10 years.
Coaches from Arizona State, Washington State and Montana State showed up in the town of 700 in July for a pickup basketball game that included Austin Dufault, a 6-foot-8 17-year-old.
“We were blown away,” said Rich Dufault, Austin’s father and coach. “These coaches were able to get here in one day. It showed they were really after him.”
Before July, the only schools chasing Dufault were North Dakota State and Montana State. But coaches from major universities scouting AAU tournaments in Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis and Las Vegas saw what coaches from NDSU already knew: Dufault is a tall player who can shoot from the outside and dribble downcourt.
The Dufaults’ phone in Killdeer began ringing off the hook.
“Recruiters were telling us how he was doing,” said Rich Dufault, who couldn’t attend the tournaments. “It’s something we never expected at all. It just kind of exploded.”
Last week, Dufault got a scholarship offer from Minnesota’s Tubby Smith, who had never seen him play. The next morning, Colorado’s Jeff Bzdelik offered a scholarship.
Dufault, who is limited to five campus visits, said he plans to visit Arizona State and NDSU. For his three other visits, he has to decide among Minnesota, Colorado, Washington State, Montana State and possibly Northern Iowa and Creighton. All have offered him full scholarships.
Austin Dufault said he hopes to make a decision by the Nov. 14 early signing date.
His name started to surface nationally on a June night in Wahpeton, during an AAU game. He drained eight 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and ended up with 45 points.
The next day, Rich Dufault received a text message from former NDSU coach Tim Miles, who is now at Colorado State. Three weeks later in Louisville, one coach sent a text message telling Rich his son had 31 points and 14 rebounds in one game.
“They thought he had a ton of offers,” said Steve Grabowski, an AAU coach and assistant at Minot State. “I told them that he only had one Division I offer. Then the word kind of spread.”
Austin Dufault maintains a 3.6 grade point average and scored a 26 on his ACT college entrance exam, well above the national average of 20.
“They don’t have to worry about him in the classroom,” his father said. “That’s becoming a real big thing with these coaches.”
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