Interview with first-year assistant coach Will Veasley.
Previous School: Illinois State
Will Veasley comes to NDSU with an impressive playing pedigree. He wasn’t the flashiest scorer or on the cover of magazines during his college days at Butler University, but he was a vital cog in the Bulldog lineup that made a Cinderella run to the 2010 National Championship game against Duke. Simply put, Veasley is a winner.
He was on the court when Gordon Hayward’s half-court heave clanked off the rim, ending Butler’s 22-game winning streak going into their matchup with Duke. In fact, Veasley won a record-tying 117 games while at Butler and played all but two minutes in the championship game his senior year.
Since college, Veasley bounced around playing in Japan and in the NBA’s D League. He was the video coordinator at IUPUI for a year before taking the same position at Illinois State. This year will be his first as a full-time college assistant.
Bison Illustrated: How did you first connect with Dave Richman?
Will Veasley: Me and Dave know some of the same people. He actually got my name from a coach that works in the same AAU system that I played for. He started calling around and got my number, we got on the phone, and you could just tell he was somebody that really, just from a basketball standpoint to a coaches standpoint to a family standpoint, that he’s really similar to the way I see myself. He came out, we had dinner, him, me and my fiancé, we talked, and it wasn’t even about basketball. Me and him, we talked about life, we talked about family, we talked about everything but basketball.
BI: What did you know about the North Dakota State program prior to getting the job?
WV: I love the game of basketball. I’ve seen or heard about just about every program there is. I pay attention to everybody. But North Dakota State, I’ve known about them since joining the Summit. And when it changed from the Mid Con and they joined, they have been one of the better teams. I knew about Ben Woodside, and all those guys. I watched them versus Oklahoma and Gonzaga, in the NCAA Tournament. I’ve known about them a little bit. Of course, I didn’t know it was a place, like my Butler days, was really similar to the way we do things.
BI: You played at Butler and played in the 2010 National Championship game. How is it similar to NDSU?
WV: More from a culture standpoint. The beliefs of holding each other accountable on the court, off the court, servant leadership and just being good people, and we value our kids and our people.
BI: Do the guys know you started and played a ton of minutes in the 2010 National Championship game against Duke?
WV: No, honestly, they’ll bring it up, but that’s the only time. If they bring it up, I’ll talk to them about it and have some fun with it. Other than that, not really. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great time in my life.
BI: I have to ask. Did you think Gordon Heyward’s shot at the buzzer from half court was going in because he was off by about an inch?
WV: I knew that was coming (laughs). With Gordon, anytime the ball left his hands, I knew there was a pretty good chance that whatever type of shot he took, it had a pretty good chance of going in. From the moment it left his hands, I didn’t have any doubts that it was going in. We had 22 or however many wins in a row. You just expect, “Alright, we’ve won 22 in a row, here goes number 23 after this shot goes in.” I definitely thought it was going in though.
BI: What’s different with this position at NDSU compared to the other jobs you’ve had at other programs?
WV: I love just being able to be on the floor and being able to voice my opinions. Having input and helping young guys just get better at basketball, guys who want to play, who want to compete and want to get better.