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NBA PM: South Dakota’s Dickerson Gets Opportunity

Trey Dickerson transferred to South Dakota for a bigger opportunity. Now, he must take advantage of it.

Cody Taylor profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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South Dakota’s Trey Dickerson Gets His Opportunity

The process of transferring as an NCAA athlete is often described as long and grueling. It’s easy to see how the process can be frustrating considering that most transfers are required to sit out a year before gaining eligibility at their new school.

Some players have been able to find ways to avoid sitting out, but those cases are rare. So, for most of these athletes, much of their first year with their new team is spent watching from the sidelines. They are left as spectators as they watch their teammates play on without them.

For these players, it can be easy to let the situation negatively impact them. Usually, players sitting on the bench in street clothes have an injury of some sort and can’t play. But, for transfers, they have to watch the game completely healthy without the opportunity of playing.

For South Dakota transfer Trey Dickerson, it doesn’t seem as though the transfer process has slowed him down much. In fact, Dickerson has embraced his transfer and is taking advantage of it the best that he can – by learning the new system and improving everyday.

That’s not to say that he wasn’t disappointed by the NCAA’s decision to declare him ineligible following his transfer from Iowa. He was upset with the decision. He wanted to play and help his new team win, but it was something he expected as a player transferring.

“At first I was kind of upset about it,” Dickerson told Basketball Insiders. “I always thought about not playing this season, but it didn’t hit me until I found out. I was thinking, ‘Alright, now it’s real. This is really something that I’m going to have to really go through.’

“I was upset at first, but then I talked to the coaching staff and my other teammates that have to sit out this year, [and] it wasn’t really that hard. I just wanted to look at the positive of getting better and getting ready for next season. After that, I got pretty mature about the decision the NCAA made.”

Dickerson’s path to South Dakota has taken him virtually all over the country. He played high school ball in New York and Los Angeles, before playing prep school in Dallas. He committed to play at Murray State briefly, but ultimately decided to play a year in junior college, where he made a name for himself.

Dickerson became the Mon-Dak Conference MVP during the 2013-14 season after averaging 19.8 points, 5.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 29 games at Williston State. He became the No. 1 ranked point guard and 10th overall prospect in junior college, while also earning NJCAA Third-Team All-American honors.

Following his successful campaign at Williston State, he opted to commit to Iowa. After having such a huge role in junior college, he didn’t seem to have a large role with the Hawkeyes. He appeared in just 15 games and averaged less than 10 minutes a contest. Dickerson was understandably unhappy with the lack of playing time, and decided to transfer. This time, he was transferring to South Dakota, where he was very comfortable with the coaching staff.

“Honestly, the reason why I picked South Dakota is I really just wanted to go somewhere where I could show my game and really have a chance to make our team get on a higher level,” Dickerson said. “South Dakota is an up-and-coming school on a mid-major level. [I was also] looking at the draft. If you put up your numbers, you’ll get your chance.

“[South Dakota] head coach [Craig] Smith was the first high-major coach to recruit me when I was in junior college. He was at Nebraska and was the first coach to offer me and really take me serious and believe in me. Then my junior college coach is also here at South Dakota as an assistant. My other two coaches are really great, too. It kind of made it a lot easier.”

Since arriving to South Dakota, Dickerson has made the most out of his time so far. He’s using his time off of the court as a chance to familiarize himself with a different system. He’s getting to know his new teammates and is adjusting to playing with them in practice. As a point guard, he must be comfortable playing with his teammates and leading them on the court.

Perhaps the biggest improvement Dickerson has made since joining South Dakota has happened in the weight room. He arrived in South Dakota weighing about 165 pounds, and today weighs 184 pounds. He’s made it a point to get stronger, and it’s paid off after adding nearly 20 pounds this season.

Now, Dickerson finds himself in a position where he can really make a name for himself on a bigger level. Although South Dakota is in a mid-major conference, it’s a huge step up from the junior college level. South Dakota is a part of the Summit League, which currently boasts the 10th-best RPI rating, according to CBS Sports.

“My first year, I honestly want to go to the NCAA tournament and make a run,” Dickerson said. “I want to win the Summit League, which we have to do to go to the NCAA tournament. I just want to lead my team and win. I want to do something like how Wichita State did – go on that undefeated run. I want to put my school on the map by being undefeated for so long.

“We have a new arena being built right now that opens up next year. We’ll start off in there; I really don’t want to lose in there. I want an undefeated home record and everything. I really want to win.”

South Dakota is considered to be a young team on the rise. They have only five seniors on the team, with the rest of the roster made up of mostly underclassman. The program is also in a bit of a unique situation, as they have three total transfers arriving next season as well. In addition to Dickerson, they have Matt Mooney transferring from Air Force and Carlton Hurst from Colorado State.

With two other players arriving at South Dakota with Dickerson, it’s made the transition much easier to go through. When the team travels to away games, the three transfers can stick together and continue working out together. Dickerson lives with Hurst, so the two often talk about the challenges of transferring and can help each other through the process. The three of them figure to be key members moving forward next season.

“We just want to win and make the program good,” Dickerson said. “When we watch them and we see them losing, we know we really can’t play. It’s really difficult; we use it as motivation. We always say, ‘We’re going to remember this time for next year, so when it comes to play, we won’t take it for granted.’

“With us coming from higher-level programs, we’re going to have a lot of pressure on us. A lot of people are going to expect us to prove that we can turn this program around. I think we’re going to have the same chip on our shoulder. We want to show and prove that we’re just as good as the guys on the high-major schools. I feel like there’s really no pressure because this is something we all came here to prove anyway.”

It’s clear that Dickerson has high expectations for next season. He also doesn’t seem distracted by the pressure that comes with being the top-ranked point guard out of junior college.

He looks up to players like Damian Lillard and Elfrid Payton since they are guards who have come out of mid-major schools and experienced success in the NBA. He saw the work they put in to be at the level they’re at now. Both were lottery picks after becoming virtually the best players to come out of their school; he wants to follow in their footsteps.

It’s often said that it sometimes takes the perfect situation for a player to stick in any level of basketball. He’s bounced around several different schools up to this point looking for an opportunity to showcase his game. He’s playing for several coaches that he’s comfortable with and has had prior success with. He has two other players transferring in that have helped each other through the process.

It seems as though he’s finally found a situation where he can excel in. Now, it’s on him to take that opportunity and run with it.

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

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