Dakota Niners History:

Recognizing the need in for additional training opportunities for young basketball players in the region, the Dakota Niners were founded in 2007 to provide off season training and competition to young athletes striving to improve themselves at the game of basketball.  During the Niners first season, coach and co-founder Tom Nelson, the all-time scoring and assists leader at Flandreau high school, used his vast playing and coaching experience to teach fundamentals to help young players improve while competing in the top summer tournaments in the Midwest region.  

Over the past nine seasons, the Niners have continued to implement and expand upon Coach Nelson's original philosophy, in workout sessions that have become legendary, as well as vital to each player's success. While other instructors may use what they have learned from a book or at a clinic, the Niners are proud to use coaches, who as former players, have succeeded at the game of basketball and are able to use their own insight to teach their fundamentals to our players.  The current Niners staff brings over 200 years combined basketball experience of high level playing and coaching to teach to its players.  The Niners recognize that no matter what level they play at, players need to constantly improve to compete. The Niners staff believes that a sound plan, combined with hard work and high ethical standards for our players, gives them the best chance to survive and succeed at basketball, and more importantly, for the challenges that lie ahead of them in life after basketball.

 Choosing the right program:

Choosing the right off-season basketball program is not a decision that should be made lightly. While the Niners program does provide the most high level training at the lowest cost, all programs require a significant commitment of time and money, and should be considered a big investment. Summer basketball is not for everyone. But any quality basketball experience that you can get from a dedicated summer program will be good. With the amount of time and cost you will be investing, choose the off-season program that is the best fit for you.


Some things you should look into are how much training will your son or daughter receive?  Is the program you are looking willing to put your son or daughter's interests above those of their own organization?  Does the organization teaching your son or daughter sincerely care about them as growing individuals, or are they looking at a business opportunity?  Do they ask for all the money up front?  Do practices or tournament games within their organization get reduced to cut overhead?  Does the program you are looking into have a history of cutting players, or not asking them back to obtain more prestige for their own program? Some of these are less than friendly questions, but ones that need to be answered nonetheless, to insure your son or daughter is cared for as an important individual and basketball player.


Dakota Niners means no cuts and no shortcuts:

Our program is very proud of the fact that in our nine year history, the Dakota Niners have never cut a player or not asked a player to return.  Culling a herd is common practice in farming and ranching, but has no place in summer basketball. The Niners have not, and will not cut players, nor will we cut corners. The Niners have never had a dedicated player in our program that we could not work with.  The Niners belief is that life is bigger than basketball and that every eager individual that walks into our practices and tournaments is infinitely more important than our win-loss record at the end of the year. We realize that each of these young players' well-being sits above and beyond everything else we can accomplish as an organization. You have our promise that our staff and coaches live and teach this philosophy every day.  You will learn to have fun working for what you achieve as a Niner.  Should instant privilege, fame, or prestige be what you desire, we may need to refer you to another program.

The Dakota Niners Formula:

How have the Dakota Niners become the highest rated basketball training program in this region?  The Dakota Niners were formed with a mission to move away from the traditional AAU mold of finding the most developed players and travel as much as possible to showcase them to distant college coaches.  This was a very expensive and unrealistic option for the majority of summer players.  The Niners instead recognized that the true benefit to our players who wished to compete at the next level was in skill improvement, and made the decision to sacrifice long distance travel to instead spend more time working on these skills.  This skill development, combined with giving each of our players a major role on their team competing against other top teams in the Midwest, is why Niners players are able to show greater improvement than their peers.  This same improvement gives our players the skill set they need to move up on their own teams, or should they desire, to be able to compete at the college level.

You can spend more money and you can travel farther, but nowhere will you receive better basketball training than what the Dakota Niners program provides.  The Niners won't ask you how great of player you are, but rather how great of player you want to be and how hard you are willing to work to get there.


Skills + Experience = Confidence and Success

There is a reason that other organizations may attempt to imitate our program and claim, "We're just like the Niners."  Parents and coaches alike across the state have recognized the sudden increase in ability from the players who have had the dedication to complete the Niners summer 
program.  We encourage other programs to imitate our training methods if young players can benefit from it.   There have been skills camps around for decades. And summer basketball tournaments have been around for almost as long. But the Niners were the first summer program in the nation to give players the optimum combination of both to maximize each individual's developmental curve. Our staff is very proud of the fact that the Niners were THE pioneers in implementing the "Skills Plus Experience" philosophy.


What we expect from our players:

The Niners do not set up our teams to showcase just one or two star players. We ask and expect each player to play a major role in their team's success, while outworking his or her opponent in all phases of the game to be the better basketball player when the game is over. Does this philosophy on occasion jeopardize a win?  Perhaps.  But it has always been the Niners belief that the primary mission of our organization is to help our players get better and work through their mistakes, not asking any of our players to spend extra time on the pine to “take one for the team” to obtain a better win loss record.


College Opportunities:

The Niners aren't going to blow smoke and tell you that college sports are for everyone, or that every Niner player can be a D1 player for Duke or North Carolina. We strive to be more realistic. Nearly every player joins our organization with the ambition to do two things:  Improve individually, while helping his or her high school team achieve greater levels of success.  All of our players who are willing to work hard, put in the extra time, and follow our training 
and tournament schedule will achieve this.  Many of our athletes choose to continue their careers at the college level. The Niners are realistic that most of these careers will be at one of the many fine institutions in South Dakota or the surrounding area.  The tournaments we compete at will have coaches from these same universities in attendance to observe the abilities and skills our players have developed.  Many of these coaches are in constant contact with our staff looking for talented, hard-working athletes for their own programs.

This season we are especially proud of fifteen of our 2014 graduates who have extended their athletic careers at the college level.  Two of them, Nathan Wedel and Jake Anderson, have already became starters on their respective teams as freshmen.  Several others are playing major roles, as are many of our upperclassmen who have become starters and major contributors on their respective college teams.  Because of the Niners reputation of high level of skills combined with a hard work ethic, our top players are in high demand. Colleges have already signed two of our 2015 athletes to play basketball for their programs next season.  Check out our program and compare it with the others.  The Niners staff would be proud to help you work to achieve these same high goals should you decide our program is the best fit for you.

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