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7 newcomers in fold: Northern Michigan University men’s basketball coach Matt Majkrzak brings in 4 transfers, 3 freshmen

Tre Harvey plays guard for Schoolcraft College during the 2019-20 season. (Photo courtesy Hometown Life/Jeff Majeske)

MARQUETTE — Four transfers and three incoming freshmen make up a class of seven new players joining the men’s basketball team this fall at Northern Michigan University.

“I’m really excited about this class. We were able to bring in three very talented freshman and four transfers who bring a wealth of experience producing at the collegiate level,” said Matt Majkrzak, who will begin his second season as the head man on the NMU bench. “Our biggest need was adding shooting, and all five guards we brought in made over 50 3-point shots in their last season.

“We also brought in two very talented 6-(foot-)8 forwards that are perfect fits for how we play.

“The best part about all seven of these guys is their character and commitment to doing things the right way in the classroom, in the community, as well as on the court. They all come from great families that will be great additions to our Northern Michigan basketball family.”

The Wildcats graduated three players from this past season’s team — center Myles Howard and guards Sam Taylor and Marcus Matelski. Howard was named to the GLIAC First Team while Taylor made the league’s Defensive Team.

Claflin University's Letrell West dribbles in a game against Lincoln, Pa., on Jan. 18, 2020, at Orangeburg, S.C. (Photo courtesy Claflin University/Gene Breland)

Northern advanced to the semifinals of the GLIAC Tournament for the second consecutive year with a big upset in the opening round of the event.

The tourney’s No. 8-seeded Wildcats went on the road and upset No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Ferris State 70-69 on March 3, forcing a move south for the semifinals and finals from Ferris’ home court in Big Rapids to No. 2 seed Grand Valley State in Allendale.

Here are profiles and Majkrzak’s comments on each new player:

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Max Bjorklund of Orono, Minnesota, is a transfer from NCAA Division II Bemidji (Minnesota) State University. At Orono High School, he was a two-time all-conference selection and was named to the all-state third team in 2016-17. Standing 6-foot-2, he averaged 11.1 points per game while appearing in 45 games in two seasons with Bemidji.

Connor Kasperbauer, center, celebrates with Kirkwood Community College teammates after hitting a 3-pointer while fouled in an NJCAA national tournament game in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on March 3, 2020. (Photo courtesy Ankeny Fanatic/Dan Holm)

Majkrzak says: “I’ve been fortunate enough to know Max for a long time and was an assistant at Bemidji when he signed there out of high school. Offensively he’s another three-level scorer that attacks the rim while also making 54 3s at 42%.

“Max also got many of the toughest defensive assignments this past season and his familiarity of (NCAA Division II) basketball and our offensive system will help him be an impact guy from Day 1.”

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Tre Harvey of the Detroit suburb of Southfield is a 6-2 guard who is transferring from Schoolcraft Junior College and played at West Bloomfield High School.

At Schoolcraft, he was named MVP of the National Junior College Athletic Association district tournament and also all-region while making the Michigan Community College Athletic Association First Team.

Max Bjorklund, front, plays in a game for Bemidji State against Mayville State on Nov. 15, 2019, in Bemidji, Minn. (Photo courtesy Bemidji State University)

Majkrzak says: “Tre comes from Schoolcraft College, where he was the leading scorer (14 ppg) on a 27-4 team that was a favorite for the national championship before the season got canceled.

“Tre checks all the boxes we look for out of a point guard — being a winner (and) a great scorer, while also being unselfish and understanding how to run a team. He knocked down 73 3s at 39% this season while averaging four assists per game.”

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Connor Kasperbauer of Ankeny, Iowa, is a 6-4 guard who is transferring from Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College, which won the 2019 NJCAA Division II national championship.

Kasperbauer earned honorable mention conference honors that season, averaging 9.6 ppg and 25.9 minutes playing time before missing all of this past year with an ankle injury.

Majkrzak says: “Connor comes from Kirkwood Community College, where he was a key cog on their national title team in 2019. I coached against Connor while he was at Kirkwood and loved his IQ, length and ability to stretch the floor. At 6-4, he made over 80 3s while shooting 42%. In addition to the shooting, he’s a winner who knows what goes into winning championships.”

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Connor McCance of Montgomery, Illinois, is a 6-8 frontcourt player who was named Oswego High School’s most improved player for two years in a row.

Majkrzak says: “Connor is 6-8, 260 (pounds) with very quick feet and brings a level of toughness and competitiveness that I just love watching and can’t wait to coach. He is a throwback player that does all the little stuff to help his team win.

“Connor’s biggest strength is his ability to control the paint on the defensive side of the ball with shot blocking and rebounding.”

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Sam Schultz of Aurora, Illinois, played for Oswego East High School and was named his team’s and conference MVP. He earned all-conference and all-area honors three times. He was named all-state honorable mention four times and is his school’s all-time leading rebounder.

Majkrzak says: “Sam is a versatile 6-8 inside-outside threat who has a great set of scoring moves from all over the court.

“His offensive prowess is the first thing you notice, but what really stuck out was his passion and will to win. Sam has a nose for the ball that allows him to be a great rebounder on the offensive and defensive ends.”

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Carson Smith of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, is a 6-1 guard who played at Hamilton Sussex High School, helping his team to a conference championship in 2018-19 and a state tournament appearance.

He was an all-state honorable mention and earned Greater Metro Conference Second Team honors twice.

Majkrzak says: “Carson was the second-leading scorer (15 ppg) on arguably the best team in the state of Wisconsin. He’s a tough player who has been very well coached and is used to playing against elite competition.

“He knocked down 57 3s at 40% during his senior year while often guarding the other team’s best player.”

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Letrell West of New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a 6-3 guard who is transferring from NCAA Division II Claflin University of Orangeburg, South Carolina.

At Claflin, he led the Panthers is scoring while also dishing out 60 assists last season.

At St. Joseph High School, he scored 1,000 points and was named the Great Middlesex Conference Player of the Year.

Majkrzak says: “Letrell comes from Claflin University, where he was their leading scorer at 12 ppg while also being second on the team in assists and third in rebounding. Letrell is a versatile scorer who scores well on all three levels using his strength to finish through contact while still making 56 3s at 37%.

“He’s another kid that has won at every stop and we feel like can come in and make a big impact from Day 1, especially with his familiarity with D-2 basketball.”

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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