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The big man for Class B

As Austin Dufault drove to the hoop, a defender violently ripped the basketball from his hands. As he waited for a foul call, the pick-up game continued at the other end of the court.

As Austin Dufault drove to the hoop, a defender violently ripped the basketball from his hands. As he waited for a foul call, the pick-up game continued at the other end of the court.

That was the first time the Killdeer High School graduate and University of Colorado recruit noticed the difference between high school basketball in North Dakota and Division I college ball.

"The speed of the game is so much greater," said Dufault, who was named North Dakota's Mr. Basketball and Class B senior athlete of the year last season. "There's guys flying around the rim. It's so much quicker than you're used to."

Dufault spent the past month and a half living in Boulder, Colo., taking two summer school classes and training with the men's basketball team.

As the only Division I basketball recruit playing in the North Dakota Lions all-star boys games Tuesday and today, Dufault hopes his experiences from Colorado can help the Class B all-stars against the Class A all-stars.

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Dufault scored 24 points in Tuesday's game. But the Class A all-stars won 68-67

"I'm using the stuff the coaches taught me in Colorado and implementing it in what we're running and trying to help our guys as much as I can," Dufault said.

While the majority of Dufault's basketball experience at Colorado has been limited to pick-up games and drills, he's spent several hours in the weight room.

One of the biggest knocks against Dufault during the recruiting process was that despite his 6-foot-8 frame and soft shooting touch from beyond the 3-point line, he was simply too skinny to play near the rim.

Despite working harder than ever to change those opinions, Dufault said he hasn't seen much of an increase in his weight.

"It's tough to put on weight because you're constantly doing stuff," Dufault said. "You don't have much down time. You burn so much energy."

After six weeks of working on his game at Colorado, Dufault's time preparing for the Lions all-star games seems more like a vacation.

While he's still on the court a few hours a day, Dufault has had a chance to relax and hang out with friends he likely won't see again for some time.

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"We've had a pretty good week of practice," Dufault said. "Overall, things have been a lot of fun."

Class B coach Mike Hanson, who led Grafton to a state championship in March, said Dufault quickly took over a leadership role when the team convened last week.

"His leadership skills are very good," Hanson said. "The kids, they listen to whatever he says and they can follow him. . . . I never thought he was going to be as good as he is."

With a tall, fast and sharp-shooting squad, Dufault believes the Class B has a chance to come out on top against the traditionally dominant Class A.

"We're definitely coming into the game thinking we have a good shot," Dufault said. ". . . We have really good size this year and athleticism, but we only have a couple true point guards. It should make for an interesting game."

One of those point guards, a high school rival of Dufault, is cherishing the opportunity to have the commanding small forward on his side.

"He's so good that it makes my job a lot easier," former Hazen standout Jacob Erhardt said. "He does so many different things. Sometimes I get caught watching, which isn't a good thing. But he's a lot of fun to play with."

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