The decision wasn’t always set in stone.
Delano senior and two-sport star Trey Longstreet was 50-50 on the choice he had to make between college football at the Division I level and basketball in Division II. He’ll be at Northern State University next season after announcing his commitment to coach Saul Phillips and the hoops program on Twitter Nov. 8.
Last summer, Longstreet’s first big football scholarship offer came in from Iowa State. Mid-majors like South Dakota State, Wyoming, and North Dakota State were all in contact with him, as well.
“It was not an easy choice because the looks I got in football were pretty hard to turn down,” Longstreet said. “But to play at that level you need to really love the sport and I loved basketball more than football.”
If you’re good enough, the right program will usually find you, but playing for a perennial postseason contender at Delano under head coach Terry Techam didn’t hurt. The Tigers won the state championship in 2018 and were headed to the Target Center again in 2020 before the pandemic shut it down — tallying a 25-4 record, a No. 7 Class 3A ranking and a second-place finish in the Wright County East.
Longstreet also had lots of visibility to college coaches while playing for the Minnesota Heat in the spring and summer, led by University of St. Thomas coach John Tauer. A handful of Longstreet’s Heat teammates have also accepted basketball scholarship offers.
“Both my high school and AAU coaches have been a huge help to me,” Longstreet said. “They have helped me grow as a player on the court and a kid off the court.”
Delano coach Terry Techam oversaw Longstreet’s development from a gangly 6-foot-4 freshman wing to a strong 6-foot-7 senior centerpiece and knows his presence in the program will be hard to replace.
“You don’t have a 6-foot-7 point guard in high school basketball,” Techam said. “The biggest thing we will miss is Tre’s energy and enthusiasm to make our team the best it can be.”
Longstreet added that he was talking to a number of other Northern Sun schools like Bemidji State and Southwest Minnesota State, and St. Thomas had reached out about a possible preferred walk-on opportunity (the Tommies are making the jump from Division 3 to Division 1 in 2021-22).
So why Northern State? There are plenty of reasons on paper. The Wolves have won three straight NSIC overall and tournament titles, including a historic 36-4 season in 2017-18 that resulted in a Division 2 national championship runner-up finish.
Wolves head man Saul Phillips is entering his second season at the helm for NSU. Phillips was the coach at Ohio University and North Dakota State University prior to arriving in Aberdeen.
There are four other Minnesota high school graduates are rostered at NSU: Andrew Kallman of Chaska, Tommy Chatman of Park Center, Jordan Belka of Rogers and Parker Fox of Mahtomedi.
“The biggest thing was the coaching staff,” Longstreet said. “I loved everything about the coaches. Another big aspect to my decision was the players. All the guys were super nice and I really enjoyed spending time with them on my visit.”
Northern State has led NCAA Division II in men’s basketball attendance all but one season since 2005-06. COVID-19 could get in the way of that trend moving forward, but it’s no secret the fans in Aberdeen show up.
“The final thing is the community of Aberdeen,” Longstreet said. “Just hearing what the atmosphere of the games is like and the support of the basketball program really caught my attention.”
Longstreet miss every aspect of his high school hoops experience — playing with lifelong friends, working with Techam and even the 5 a.m. Saturday practices.
“That’s something you probably won’t hear from most Delano basketball players, but after waking up at five in the morning for practices for four years you start to get used to it and I’m definitely going to miss it,” he said.
Longstreet and the Tigers are scheduled to tip off the 2020-21 season Dec. 11 against Big Lake. He will have the ball in his hands often as the primary playmaker, but Techam believes there’s much more to Longstreet’s game than being the center of on-court attention.
“Trey never worries about stats,” Techam said. “His one and only goal is for the team to be successful. He is only going to continue to improve, and NSU got a great basketball player, but an even better person.”