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UND's youth helps lead the way early in the men's basketball season

Freshman B.J. Omot leads UND in scoring heading into weekend home games against Utah Tech and Cal State Fullerton

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UND's B.J. Omot hits a jumper against Montana State on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – B.J. Omot was one of UND’s top recruits. The former Mankato East standout came to UND with the expectations of playing right away. He met that expectation and six games into the season, he’s the team’s leading scorer – averaging 12.3 points.

Even though it’s still early in the season, has he exceeded UND coach Paul Sather’s expectations?

“No, not at all,” said Sather.”There is no surprise in what he’s doing.”

And that assessment also includes the other incoming UND freshmen – Treysen Eaglestaff and Elijah Brooks.

“We had pretty high expectations for them,” said Sather. “They’re part of the reason why we weren’t necessarily too worried about just going out and trying to get a bunch of transfers

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“We had some young guys we wanted to get on the floor because we felt they could come in and play right away. And I think they’re doing that.”

Omot, a 6-foot-8 forward, has displayed flashes of athleticism that defies his size. He’s led the fastbreak, hit from the perimeter and his drives to the basket have featured up-and-under moves that opposing defenses can’t handle.

Eaglestaff, meanwhile, is fifth in team scoring, averaging 8.3 points. His strength is his perimeter scoring.He’s hit 11 of 26 three-pointers (42.3 percent). His long-range scoring touch gives the Hawks a legitimate deep threat, something they’ve lacked in recent seasons.

And he’s becoming more comfortable on the floor.

Eaglestaff hit 5-of-9 triples in UND’s win over Wisconsin-Stout on Tuesday night.

“It was a big boost seeing the ball go in that many times,” said Eaglestaff, last year’s Mr. Basketball winner in North Dakota. “After the first three, I could really feel it. My confidence is really going up offense and defense-wise.”

UND (3-3) already has half the wins it had all of last season.

The Hawks put together a difficult schedule this season, playing No. 9 Creighton – the Big East favorite – and preseason Big Sky Conference favorite Montana State.

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This weekend, the schedule will still be challenging as Utah Tech and Cal State Fullerton will take on the Hawks at The Betty.

Sather said the on-going challenge this season has been rebounding. UND already ranks high nationally in transition offense, said Sather. And that will be helped considerably if the Hawks can shore up their defense.

UND has a chance to take another step forward this weekend with games against two solid mid-major programs.

Eaglestaff said he can see improvement with each game.

“Every game is a new lesson we can learn,” said Eaglestaff.

UND will host Utah Tech at 1 p.m. Friday and Cal State Fullerton of the Big West Conference at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

There will be more basketball at The Betty this weekend as well. On Saturday, Utah Tech and Cal State Fullerton will play each other at 1 p.m.

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UND's Treysen Eaglestaff looks to pass the ball as Wisconsin-Stout's Jacob Walczak (1) and Nick Jungel defend in the first half Tuesday, Nov. 33,3033,at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

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