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Smith names three assistants


VERMILLION, S.D.(KWSN) —South Dakota head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith has named Austin Hansen, Gameli Ahelegbe and Eric Peterson as his assistants for the upcoming season.

“We are thrilled to announce Austin Hansen, Gameli Ahelegbe and Eric Peterson as our assistant men’s basketball coaches at the University of South Dakota,” said Smith. “They will provide tremendous passion, energy, enthusiasm and work ethic for not only our basketball program, but for our University, athletic department, community and fans. I proudly welcome them and their families to Vermillion.

“These guys are great teachers of the game and possess fantastic recruiting relationships throughout our region. They carry themselves in a professional manner and take tremendous pride in being positive mentors in young men’s lives. I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and go to work with these three fantastic men.”

Hansen spent the 2013-14 campaign as an assistant coach at Northern Colorado, where he helped lead the Bears to an 18-14 record and a trip to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Prior to that, Hansen served as an assistant at his alma mater, South Dakota State, for five years. He began his career as an assistant at Minnesota State from 2003-08.

At SDSU, Hansen served as the lead recruiter for Nate Wolters, the 38th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft who now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. He also helped lead the Jackrabbits to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths in 2012 and 2013.

Hansen was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain at South Dakota State from 1998-2003. He was named South Dakota Men’s College Player of the Year in 2003 and earned all-region honors following both his junior and senior seasons. He remains the second-leading three-point shooter and third-leading scorer in program history.

Hansen and his wife, Andrea, have a daughter, Hannah (2).

“Austin brings a wealth of coaching experience to the table,” said Smith. “He has been an assistant coach in our league for five years and has a great feel for what it takes to win. Austin has fantastic relationships in the Midwest and is an excellent teacher of the game. He brings a pit bull mentality to the table. He simply will not be outworked.”

Ahelegbe (pronounced Ga-ma-LEE Ah-hel-LEG-buh) was a standout performer at Minnesota State, where he served as team captain in 2005 and was a member of the top-ranked team in Division II. Ahelegbe earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Minnesota State in 2007 and went on to earn his master’s degree from Saint Thomas in 2010.

Ahelegbe has served as an assistant coach at North Dakota the past three seasons, where he helped lead UND to back-to-back Great West Conference Tournament Championships and three consecutive trips to the postseason. He also served as recruiting coordinator at UND and taught classes in the Kinesiology Department.

From 2007-10, Ahelegbe served as the club director and trainer for 43Hoops Basketball Academy in Hopkins, Minn., which was founded by former NBA star Chris Carr. During that time, he also served as an assistant coach at Minnesota State (2009-10) and as an assistant at Brooklyn Center High School (Minn.) (2008-09).

Ahelegbe and his wife, Syreeta, have two daughters, Aniah (8) and Azalyn (1), and a son, Amawuli (AJ) (2).

“Gameli is an articulate, enthusiastic coach who will bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and positive energy every day,” said Smith. “He has a great passion for people and will be a great mentor for our players. Gameli is an excellent recruiter. Moms love this guy.”

Peterson has served as athletics director and head men’s basketball coach at Williston State College (N.D.) for the past two seasons. In that time, the Tetons were 52-15 with a 2013 Mon-Dak Conference Championship and a 2012 Region XIII Championship.

Peterson was the top assistant coach at Williston State from 2005-09, then spent two seasons as an assistant at Minnesota State Moorhead before returning to Williston. He coached six All-Americans at WSC and placed 15 players at the NCAA Division I level.

Peterson hails from West Salem, Wis., and graduated from UW-LaCrosse in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. From 2003-09, Peterson coached with Ritchie Davis and the most prestigious AAU program in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Playground Warriors out of Milwaukee.

Peterson and his wife, Lindsey, have a daughter, Flynn, who turns two Thursday.

“Eric has one of the brightest minds in the game,” said Smith. “He is intelligent and has a great feel for the game. He possesses fantastic recruiting ties throughout the Midwest and junior college ranks. His 52-15 record as a head coach speaks for itself.”

Courtesy: University of South Dakota