Kirk verbally picks SMSU

Although signing day is still more than three months away, the Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball team added a big piece to its 2014 freshman class in the form of Mountain Lake Area standout, Carter Kirk.

Kirk, an All-Red Rock Conference power forward as a junior in 2012, recently made a verbal commitment to play basketball for the Mustangs, starting in the 2014-15 season.

With more than 1,600 points and 976 career rebounds, Kirk already ranks as Mountain Lake’s most prolific scorer and rebounder with his senior season still to come.

“I like the direction that the program has been going the past few years,” Kirk said of his decision to commit to SMSU. “I hope to get on board and help the team reach its goals.”

At 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, it’s easy to see why SMSU head men’s basketball coach Brad Bigler, as well as several other Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (Division II) and Summit League (Division I) schools were interested in Kirk. But Kirk said that his connection with Bigler helped him make his decision.

“I’ve had a strong relationship with Coach Bigler. He’s been at my AAU games and has watched a couple of my football games as well,” Kirk said.

This past summer, Kirk played on the Southwest Minnesota Stars AAU team, while he will also line up under center for the Mountain Lake Area football team this fall.

Kirk averaged 25.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game in his junior season for the Wolverines. An Associated Press All-State selection, Kirk was also named to the Class A Boys Basketball State All-Tournament Team after helping guide the Wolverines to the Target Center in 2012 and 2013. Kirk had 20 points in Mountain Lake Area’s 61-44 loss to eventual Class A runner-up Maranatha Christian Academy in the opening game of the 2013 state tournament.

With his size and athleticism, Kirk will provide the Mustangs with versatility at forward when he arrives on campus as a freshman.

“However they put me on offense, I want to do the best I can, whether its on the block or not. I just want to come in and help the team,” Kirk said.

SMSU finished the 2012-13 season with a 16-14 overall record (13-9 NSIC).