St. Cloud State was in need of some inside help.
That’s why the Huskies signed Northern Michigan transfer forward Matt Craggs to a national letter of intent late Wednesday.
It’s rare for head coach Kevin Schlagel to go out and get a one-year transfer like the 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior Craggs. But when 6-6 center Tim Bergstraser announced he wasn’t returning due to continued knee issues in March, it created a need.
“We’re excited about getting him,” Schlagel said Thursday afternoon. “We needed some help on the front line and he really should help us. We watched him in high school and we liked him then. He’s a good fit. We like his attitude and approach to the game. He’ll be a nice complement at the power and small forward positions for us.”
St. Cloud State guard Kevin Levandoski helped Craggs become interested in St. Cloud State. The two played AAU basketball in Wisconsin from junior high to high school together. Craggs is a graduate of Kimberly (Wis.) High School.
Once Levandoski found out Craggs wanted to transfer from Northern Michigan, he brought up St. Cloud. Craggs made his official visit to campus about a month ago.
“I just wanted to get in a new situation and get in a winning program,” Craggs said. “I liked the campus and all the guys on the team. I’m a marketing major and it helped knowing they have a good program there. I’ll make a couple of visits during the summer and probably stay with Kevin.”
Craggs had started for Northern Michigan for the past three years. He averaged 13.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season while shooting 35.6 percent from three-point range and 45.6 percent from the field.
Playing for a program that went 5-21 last season, and 4-18 in the GLIAC, didn’t sit well with Craggs. Northern Michigan fired head coach Doug Lewis Jr. in March.
“I’ve played a lot of minutes during the past three years,” Craggs said. “I learned about the speed of the college game and how to do things. I hate losing. I won all throughout high school. I haven’t played for a winning team in college yet. That’s the main thing I want to do this coming season.”
Craggs will be able to play right away for the Huskies, who finished 20-8 last season and missed out on the Central Region Tournament. Players who transfer within the NSIC have to sit out a year due to league transfer rules.
Craggs joins a recruiting class that includes Melrose standout Scottie Stone and center Payton Plagge of West Fork (Iowa) High School.
The Huskies are done recruiting for next season. There could be a walk-on added to the roster before the season starts in October.
“We’ve never brought in a guy during my time with the idea that he’s only going to be here for a year,” Schlagel said. “It’s not something we plan on doing a lot of. Craggs played in a league similar to the NSIC. That will help him step in right away. He won’t have to go through any growing pains.”
Craggs can play both the power and small forward spots. Schlagel likes the potential of his lineup that includes Levandoski, point guard Jordan Poydras, guard Damarius Cruz and forwards Connor Niehaus and James Fort and 6-11 center Chris Larson.
“We know we’re solid, but we have to get tougher,” Schlagel said. “We have to be a little more consistent than what we showed last year. The guys are buckling down this spring, probably more than I’ve ever seen. Usually spring is a little looser, but we haven’t had a loose environment in workouts.
“They’re putting their feet to the coles. They know they need to get stronger and tougher. We know we’re better than what we showed at the end of last season.”
–Former St. Cloud State point guard Shaun Jensen has decided to play professionaly overseas. He hasn’t signed an agent.
–Former St. Cloud State forward Theo Rothstein is rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in his left knee near the end of the season. He also hopes to play professionally overseas.
Follow Andy Rennecke on Twitter @AndyRennecke.