The Coyote mens basketball team’s 2019-20 season ended not how they had hoped — losing in the first round of the Summit League Tournament and missing out on an opportunity to play in a postseason tournament.
Senior Triston Simpson finished up his four-year career with the Coyotes this season. Simpson said the team had goals they didn’t accomplish but had accepted an invitation to a postseason tournament until it was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Three days after our loss in the Summit League Tournament, we had some days off and we met as a team and we were going to accept an invitation to the CIT,” Simpson said.
Senior Tyler Hagedorn is finishing out his final year as a Coyote after being injured for the 2018-19 season. Both Hagedorn and Simpson endured injuries and a coaching change during their Coyote careers.
“My five years there could not have been crazier,” Hagedorn said. “My freshman year we played in the Dome for a season and obviously we played in the arena these last four seasons, which is a great place to play. It was quite the experience to play with two different coaching staffs, two different arenas. I had to sit out a year due to injury in the middle of my career. With all of those things, it was definitely not the path I thought I would be taking.”
Hagedorn and Simpson are joined by three other seniors, Tyler Peterson, Brandon Armstrong and Cody Kelley. Each player has had unique experiences and journies to USD. Hagedorn said the group is unique in that they have a player from three different age groups.
“Cody Kelley graduted high school in 2014, I graduated in 2015 and Triston, Tyler Peterson and Brandon Armstrong graduated in 2016.,” Hagedorn said. “We definitely had some age between us, but we all finished up our last year of eligibility together. It was special to play with these guys.”
While both players didn’t get the ending to their Coyote careers they may have wanted, they both showed thankfulness for their time at USD.
The five seniors played a majority of the minutes this season with four of them starting and one coming off the bench to play minutes. Both Hagedorn and Simpson said they expect Stanley Umude to have a great season next year as a senior. Simpson said there is a lot to look forward to for Coyotes.
“With the graduating class of five seniors, he will have the opportunity to put up even bigger numbers next year,” Simpson said. “One guy I think Coyote fans will really like is Brady Heiman. He transferred from Nebraska, and he is from Nebraska, so I knew him in high school a little bit. He is a legit 6-11 and he has good hands and will protect the rim really well.”
Both players are moving on from Coyote basketball, but plan to play professional basketball at some level. Simpson said he is in the process of finding an agent while Hagedorn has selected an agent and has spoken with a pair of NBA teams already.
The Coyote seniors didn’t get the send-off they wanted, but three 1,000 point scorers and multiple 20-win seasons for this group is something they are proud of.
“I love these guys,” Simpson said. “One thing we will always be able to look back and smile about our time here is that we left the program in a better place than when we got here. I’m not saying they weren’t good, but I would say in these last four years we have had some of our best Division I seasons and some exciting times at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.”