The 5-0 Augustana Viking men’s basketball team has yet to start conference play, but they can already look ahead to next year with pleasure after signing three elite athletes.
Head Coach Tom Billeter announced that Adam Beyer from De Pere, Wisc., Ethan Guske from Sheboygan, Wisc., and Devin Gilligan from Amherst, N.H. will attend Augustana next season.
“We are very excited about all three of our recent additions. These are very good young men who have had very good high school careers. All three have something they do very well and all three come from extremely successful high school programs,” Billeter said.
The three signees will take the place of two outgoing seniors: Cameron McCaffey and Leif Nomeland.
Guard McCaffrey has averaged 19.5 points and 4.2 assists in the first five games.
Leif Nomeland, 6’7”, will also end his Augie career after this season. He averaged 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the first four games while playing only 73 of the 160 minutes.
The incoming class will have big shoes to fill…literally. Billeter and the Vikings hope to achieve this with the help of these new players, especially with tall point guard Beyer.
Coach Billeter commented, “[Beyer] is a 6-6 point guard who is very good at running your team, he is a very unselfish player yet more than capable of scoring. He is a great defender and has very good leadership qualities.”
Beyer’s 2011-12 high school basketball season wrapped up at 24-2 with both losses to Germantown, the eventual state champions.
In addition to basketball, Beyer was a standout wide receiver, reeling in seven touchdowns, 480 yards, and averaging 17.1 yards per reception. He played first base and outfield in baseball as well.
Guske will add to the guard corps next year. The 6’1” guard has racked up many personal and team achievements over his high school career.
Earning three varsity letters in basketball, Guske was named team MVP last season, led the conference in 3-point shooting his sophomore and junior year, was named first team all-area his junior year and produced a 37-8 team record in his last two seasons.
The well-decorated guard was named MVP in the Wisconsin Blizzard AAU organization.
“[Guske] is very athletic and an excellent perimeter shooter. He also handles the ball well and can also play very good defense,” Billeter said.
Gilligan, the final signee, will be the farthest from home next year…1,573 miles to be exact from Amherst, N.H. to Sioux Falls, S.D., or 27 hours of driving time.
How does a 19-year old on the east coast end up at Augustana?
“I met coach [Jeff] Trumbauer when I was playing in Scotland and England with my prep school team this past summer,” Gilligan said. “He liked how I played and when a scholarship became available he called me and asked if I would be interested. I was just starting to make official visits to colleges when he called.
“I liked what he had to say so I made the trip to Sioux Falls. I really liked the campus, facilities, players, coach Billeter and his other assistant coaches, other people I met while on the visit.
“Also, Augustana is a very good academic school which was important and the basketball team played in one of the top DII conferences in the country.”
A captain at Kimball Union Academy this season, Gilligan has impressed Trumbauer and Billeter with his work ethic, size and pure talent.
“[Gilligan] is a throwback player in that he does all the little things that make a basketball team successful,” Trumbauer said. “At the end of the game his stat line won’t have many zero’s in it. He rebounds very well, he is unselfish and a solid passer, as a scorer he can shoot the three, slash off the dribble and post up. He’s a complete player with a high level of basketball I.Q.”
Gilligan noted that prep school, as the name may tell, has prepped him well for college basketball.
“The day we stepped on campus we started weight training and we were in the gym every day. Also, the majority of players on my Kimball roster are scholarship players so you’re playing at a high level every day you’re in the gym,” Gilligan said.
“In regards to our basketball schedule, we play against a number of the top teams and players in the country, which I think has really prepared me to compete in the NSIC.
“On the court I think you can expect to see me come in and play as hard as I can and help the team in whatever role the coaches have for me. Off the court [I’m] an easy going kid who works hard in the classroom and can get along with almost everyone.”
It’s hard to know how much of an impact these incoming freshmen will have right away next year, but based on this year’s team it’s easy to see that coach Billeter is not afraid to play freshmen.
In the first five games this season, the freshmen class has scored 126 points (34.6 percent of the team total), grabbed 80 rebounds and played 377 minutes (37.7 percent of total court time).
Billeter commented, “I have no idea what their contributions will be immediately, however, I do know they are going to be excellent players down the road.”
The Augustana men (5-0) will start NSIC conference play this week against Wayne State at six p.m. on Saturday, December 1 at the Elmen Center following the women’s game, also against Wayne State.