Devils Lake's Grant Nelson to play college basketball at NDSU

Devils Lake's Grant Nelson takes a shot against Grand Forks Central last season. Photo by Nick Nelson/Grand Forks Herald.

Devils Lake boys basketball coach Derek Gathman remembers a few years ago when Grant Nelson was a 6-foot-1 freshman.

Then he was a 6-5 sophomore.

Now 6-9, Nelson -- the Firebirds’ senior-to-be -- committed Monday to play college basketball at North Dakota State.

“I thought I fit really well there,” Nelson said. “The coaching staff, players, facilities … those were the main reasons.”

As a junior in the 2018-19 season, Nelson averaged 16.4 points, as well as East-Region bests in rebounds (11.8) and blocks (5.0).


Nelson, who also held scholarship offers from UND, Northern State, Minot State, Minnesota State-Moorhead and the University of Mary, led the Firebirds to a 12-13 record last season.

Both of NDSU’s 2020 commitments are in-state recruits. The other is Jamestown’s Boden Skunberg.

The Bison won the Summit League Tournament in 2018-19, then picked up a win against North Carolina Central in the NCAA Tournament First Four.

“(Nelson) isn’t necessarily a post player,” Gathman said. “He’s got that height, but he’s got a lot of good perimeter skills. He’s a good ball-handler … in fact, he might be our best. For that size, his skill level is amazing, which is why you have offers from both North Dakota schools.”

Nelson also competes in track and field for the Firebirds. He was a state qualifier in the high jump and triple jump, finishing seventh at the state meet in the high jump.

Nelson’s brother, Leif Nelson, a 6-foot-6 2019 graduate, is signed to play next season at Lake Region State College.

Gathman said Nelson’s going to see more attention in his senior season with a Division I recruit label.


“He won’t surprise anymore,” Gathman said. “Last year, it was ‘Whoa, this kid is really good.’ He’s going to do a little of everything for us. He’s worked a lot on his outside shot. It’ll be a good test to see how he reacts to being the focal point.”

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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