Northwestern's Tecker plans on going to University of South DakotaThe prep basketball player expects to sign a letter of intent this weekend
By: B: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
Steve Tecker had a good reason why his performance took a dip during the crucial summer basketball workout period, perhaps causing mid-major Division I universities to shy away from the Northwestern guard: He had a broken ankle.
Tecker unknowingly suffered a broken left ankle in open gym at Northwestern High School in June. He said a doctor in Superior suggested a fracture, but a Duluth doctor said it was just a sprain and to stay off his feet for a week.
“I played on it right away, thinking it was a sprain and I would play with the pain,” he said Tuesday. “But it never healed like all my other sprains. It kept nagging me, so I went back in and (doctors) found calcium buildup (from a fracture) inside my ankle and told me that tendinitis was causing the pain.”
Seven weeks later, Tecker is still waiting to vigorously test the ankle on the court, but his college decision is secure. After an official weekend visit to Vermillion, S.D., Tecker chose Monday to commit to the University of South Dakota. He expects to sign a letter of intent in Maple this weekend.
“They told me I would be able to compete for major minutes, which is something I was looking for,” said Tecker, a 6-foot-5 senior who averaged 21.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in leading the Tigers to a 25-1 record and a Division 2 state semifinal berth last winter. “They score a lot — they average about 86 points a game — and like to run the floor. It seemed like a good fit.”
The Coyotes, who are a provisional Division I school, were 20-9 last season and are favored to win the Great West Conference. South Dakota eventually will move to the Summit League and be eligible for the NCAA tournament during Tecker’s junior year.
Tecker said South Dakota coaches were impressed with him despite the injury. The same, perhaps, was not the case with other schools in the running such as Bucknell, St. Louis, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Eastern Illinois.
“South Dakota saw me play and liked what they saw, even with my broken ankle, so I knew I could play there for sure,” said Tecker, who also made an unofficial visit to Bucknell’s Lewisburg, Pa., campus last summer.
NCAA rules prohibit college officials from discussing recruits until they receive an official tender, but Tecker says Bucknell coaches wanted to see him play in open gym once his ankle had fully healed. Though he’s pleased about the South Dakota offer, Tecker acknowledges his health may have caused other schools to drop out of the running.
“This summer, if I had been 100 percent physically, I probably would have had some more offers from bigger schools,” he said.
“It was a little scary this offseason watching him with his ankle,” said teammate Donnie Hissa, who plans on signing a baseball tender with Notre Dame on Sunday. “That ankle scared away some of the bigger schools, but I think he’s going to do really well and show people what they’re missing out on.”
Today marks the first day high school seniors can sign a letter of intent. For the first time in recent memory, three area boys basketball players are headed to Division I schools. Joining Tecker are:
•Duluth East senior guard Dyami Starks (22 points, 5.7 rebounds per game) plans to sign with the Ivy League’s Columbia University in the coming days.
•Cloquet senior center Chad Calcaterra (23.4 points, 10.8 rebounds per game) has a news conference scheduled for 4 p.m. today to sign his letter to attend Colorado State.