20 Jun 2013 09:54 AM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Nate Walters drives on Michigan’s Trey Burke in the NCAA Tournament. (Image Source: US Presswire)
South Dakota State point guard Nate Wolters has been a consistent performer for three years running, however when you play in the Summitt League your contributions can go largely unnoticed. Wolters made a major leap in his sophomore season, as his scoring jumped from 10.1 points per game to 19.5. From there the lead guard continued to make steady progress scoring 21.1 PPG as a junior and 22.3 PPG in his senior campaign, leading the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Tournament in each of his final two seasons.
The mid-major product was one of the six prospects to workout for the New York Knicks on Tuesday as the 2013 NBA Draft approaches. While in town, Wolters spoke about potentially playing his home games at Madison Square Garden.
“I really like the city and it’d be a dream come true to play in the Garden,” Wolters said [per the New York Post]. “It’s one of the best arenas in all of basketball. I’ve never been there, but it’d be cool to play here 41 games a year.”
An all-around performer, Wolters averaged as many as 6.1 assists as a sophomore, 5.6 rebounds as a senior and 1.7 steals in his junior and senior seasons.
“I think I’m more of a facilitator than a scorer, really,” Wolters said. “Just out of necessity it was for me to score in college, so I had to put up a lot of shots, but I think my natural position is just a passing point guard who makes players around me better.”
He can also fill it up from the perimeter. Wolters shot 40.8 percent from three-point range as a sophomore and after having a rough season from downtown as a junior [24.1 percent], the Minnesota native bounced back to make 37.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc this past season.
With New York’s backup point guards either retired in the case of Jason Kidd or in limbo, see Pablo Prigioni, Wolters believes he can be a good fit wearing the Orange & Blue.
“Definitely, this would be a great fit. I know Jason Kidd just retired and they got Raymond Felton at point guard, but that seems like a need of theirs. I definitely feel I can add to it and hopefully I have the opportunity.”
While many scouts question his defensive ability, Wolters will tell you he’s a better defender than given credit for.
“I think I showed that in the season a little bit when we played the top guys, like Trey Burke [National Player of the Year], I was able to keep him in front,” said Wolters. “That’s something I’ll continue to work on. Defense is more just an effort thing and toughness, so I’m going to bring that.”
In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Burke scored just six points on 2 for 12 shooting, however in the potential showcase game Wolters only made 3 of 14 attempts and was limited to 10 points while committing three turnovers, so it wasn’t necessary a resume-building effort.
A potential late first-round pick, his lack of athleticism and swiftness of foot could push him into the second round. Even though Wolters would fill a Knicks need, it would be surprising if they call his name with the 24th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. They’ll be more likely to pull the trigger on the former Jackrabbit if they are able to acquire a second-round pick by draft day.
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Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.