With sights already set on next year, Lake City's Nathan Heise has a big season ahead of him. Heise, the Republican Eagle boys' basketball Player of the Year, wants to take the team further than he did previously. He also has a decision to make: where to attend college.
"I want to go where I can make an impact right away," he said.
For a 2020 high school grad, it's early in the process, but Heise already has five scholarship offers to play basketball. Minnesota State University Moorhead, St. Cloud State, Winona State, University of Minnesota Duluth and Northern State have all extended offers.
"It's a reward for all the hard work I put in," Heise said. "Every team in the (NSIC) is good. It feels good knowing that they think I can help them. That's a level that is interesting to me. It might be DII, but it is still really competitive."
A few Division I schools have made visits, but none have put forth an offer, yet. Lake City head coach Greg Berge said he feels it's only a matter of time until Division I schools give Heise a scholarship offer.
All of the potential places that Heise might play after high school excites him. His play on the court this past season should certainly excite college coaches. Heise averaged 21.9 points per game, scoring at least 20 points in 23 of 31 games, and 6.7 rebounds this season. He also hit 35.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Whenever the team needed points or an offensive boost, Heise was there to supply them.
"I know when I have to start getting aggressive or if I need to start passing more," Heise said. "Each half is different and you have a different mindset going to each game. If you start getting hot from three, anything can happen."
"He's incredibly unselfish," Berge said. "It's hard to find guys that can score like he can score and be unselfish. If you look at how he scores and when he scores, he impacts the game in many ways."
One of the reasons Heise said was able to succeed this year came from the hustle of fellow junior Reid Gastner.
"I can lean on him," Heise said. "If I'm tired, he can make plays by himself. It's not all on me. It's a shared thing to lead to the team."
Gastner supplied nearly the same stats as Heise in many offensive and defensive categories. The only difference being between the two being points per game.
Defensively, Heise was one of the best in the Hiawatha Valley League. He and Gastner led the Tigers into state with the fewest points allowed per game (47.9) by any Class AA team in the tournament.
"When your two best offensive players commit that hard to the defensive end, everybody does," Berge said.
As Heise looks ahead to next year, playing with Gastner and many other returning teammates leads him to believe the team can make and win the Class AA state title.
"That should be our highest goal," Heise said. "We have a lot of good guys coming back. We have a lot of guys on our bench coming back too."
As for the decision on where to play after high school, Heise has an ideal setting in mind. He has talked with his family and will make a calculated decision after visiting the campus and doing his research on the basketball program as well as the academics of the college.
"The people, the coaches, the community, the feel are really important to Nate," Berge said. "That's who he is."