Dickinson State senior Jarek Hansen isn’t a type of basketball player who can be easily categorized. Hansen has steadily increased his output each of the three seasons he has been with the Blue Hawk men after transferring from Williston State College.
He is averaging 10.6 points and three rebounds per game while shooting 89 percent from the free-throw line and 39 percent from 3-point range, all of which are by far the best marks of his collegiate career.
“My role has changed every year,” Hansen said. “My sophomore year, I was expected to bring a spark off the bench when the time was there for me. Last year, I got put in a starting role right at the beginning of the season and was expected to put some points on the board, score for us and play hard, tough defense as well.”
This season, the 6-foot-6 forward has started 10 of 23 games and often has made his biggest impact coming off the bench, though he has definitely had some ebbs and flows.
Despite pouring in a career-high 35 points on the road against Oglala Lakota College on Nov. 29, Hansen has been held below five points eight times this season.
Every one of those games were DSU losses.
After a hot start to January, he hit a massive cold snap during DSU’s road trip to play Westminster College and Montana Western. He scored just two points in both road games and was held scoreless for the only time this season against Westminster on Jan. 24.
He responded two days later by scoring 16 points off the bench in a home victory over Montana Western. Not only that, he played a major part in limiting Western big man Jake Owsley, a 6-8 junior forward.
A natural small forward, Hansen has played every position but point guard, though he has defended the opposition’s ball handlers.
“I think his defense has improved just great,” DSU head coach Ty Orton said. “He just does a great job on the defensive end. Last year, we had him picking up the point guard in full court. This year, he’s been doing something on a post player.”
It’s easy to say Hansen is an adaptive player.
Though he likes hanging around the 3-point line — he is second on the team with 27 treys this season — he has also been more willing to drive to the paint this season and create opportunities for himself, as evident by his 75-for-84 performance from the free-throw line.
“This year, I kind of had to do a little bit of everything,” said Hansen, a Williston Trinity Christian High School graduate who turned 23 years old on Thursday. “But, I’d say my main role has kind of been a scorer this year.”
And when he scores, DSU tends to be successful.
The last three games he has scored in double figures are Blue Hawk wins. Of DSU’s 10 victories, only once did Hansen not score at least 10 points.
“He’s a scorer,” said DSU junior Brock Boos, who lives with Hansen. “He’s not afraid to let it go. He’s always got confidence in himself too. That’s a big thing with Jarek.”
The Blue Hawks will rely on Hansen to put up points when they host Montana Tech at 4 p.m. today in Scott Gymnasium. After that, DSU has four games on the road before returning home to play its final two regular season games.
Hansen said he wants to play in a home playoff game, which is still a possibility for the Blue Hawks, who are 10-13 overall, 3-5 in the Frontier and one spot removed from the top six teams in the league with seven games remaining.
The top six teams qualify for the Frontier postseason tournament.
“It’s really wide open in these last couple weeks,” Hansen said. “That’s still our goal, is to host a home playoff game. If we drop a couple, we still have to make sure we win a couple just to get into the playoffs.”