USD men’s head basketball coach Todd Lee sat down for Sunday’s press conference following the Coyotes’ 99-84 win over South Dakota State visibly wet, but it wasn’t from sweat.
“Total team win,” Lee said. “Hags (Tyler Hagedorn) gets to 1,000 points and that’s why I’m soaked. Because they (the team) gave Hagedorn a bath or water shower.”
Tyler Hagedorn became the third Coyote starter to eclipse 1,000 career points in the last 10 days. Hagedorn joined Triston Simpson, Tyler Peterson and 46 others in the illustrious 1,000 point club.
Simpson and Peterson joined the club on Jan. 11 when the Coyotes defeated Omaha 91-81. Both players were honored with a special basketball to celebrate their accomplishments before Sunday’s game.
Each of these three stars have seen their successes grow through their time with the team.
RUNNING THE FLOOR
Simpson, a Lincoln, Neb. native, started every game in the 2017-18 and 18-19 seasons. He also started the first seven games of this season before suffering an MCL injury in November. Simpson missed the remainder of non-conference play (seven games) before returning to action on Dec. 29 against Western Illinois.
Three games later, inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center, Simpson scored his 1,000th career point against Omaha. Simpson played his first game without a knee brace on Sunday against South Dakota State, where he scored 21 points. Simpson’s performance earned him praise from SDSU head coach Eric Henderson.
“Everyone talks about Hags, everyone talks about (Stanley) Umude and rightfully so,” Henderson said. “They’re very good players but the most important player on this team might be Triston Simpson. A lot of Coyote fans would probably agree with me.”
Henderson also said the Coyotes improved last season when Simpson was moved back to the point guard position.
“We knew he’s a really good player,” Henderson said. “They were working him back and getting him healthy and it was just a matter of time. He performed very well tonight and they did a good job of getting him to his right hand and Coach Lee runs good plays to get him there.”
Peterson is from Lino Lakes, Minn. He became a starter midway through the 2017-18 season. He has started 66 of the last 67 regular season games for USD. Peterson scored his 1,000th career point later in the same game as Simpson.
Peterson tallied 18 points against SDSU, a new career-best. Peterson has also been shooting at a better percentage than any previous season at USD. He has the team-high in percentage at 58.9% and is averaging 11 points per game.
Hagedorn, a native of Norfolk, Neb., redshirted the 2018-19 season due to a foot injury but is now in the best season of his career. During his junior year, Hagedorn lived in the shadow of Matt Mooney. After leaving for Texas Tech for his final year of eligibility, Mooney is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. Hagedorn decided to stick around and the decision is paying off.
Hagedorn is averaging 17.2 points per game and shooting 54.8% from beyond the arc. That percentage would be the best in the country, but his 84 attempts put him under the minimum requirement. Early in the first half of the game against South Dakota State, where Hagedorn tallied 24 points, he reached the 1,000 point milestone.
“It’s been a long, up and down, weird career I’ve had but I’ve loved being here the whole time,” Hagedorn said. “I really love all the teammates that I’ve got to play with and it’s really cool that I’ve got family here that got to see that. But the best part about it is we got to come away with a win against the Jacks.”
Lee said he was not aware of Hagedorn eclipsing that milestone until the locker room celebration following the game, but he also praised all three seniors who have reached the milestone in the last 10 days.
Lee said these three young men represent the program the right way. He also said in the culture of today’s college basketball, the conversation revolves around transfers. But the three seniors decided to stick around through a coaching change because of their love for USD. Reads awkwardly.
The list of accomplishments of Simpson, Peterson and Hagedorn is a lengthy one as it stands but there is still one thing these seniors have not done: compete in the NCAA Tournament, also known as “the Big Dance.” The Coyotes are heating up, winning three of their last four games, and look to make their push to the postseason in the final 10 games.