Austin Hansen and Eric Peterson named to USU men’s basketball coaching staff

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith has named Austin Hansen as an assistant coach to the program. Hansen was a member of Smith’s staff at South Dakota, having coached in Vermillion each of the past four seasons. Hansen is one of two coaches joining Smith from South Dakota as Eric Peterson was also announced as an assistant coach on Friday.

“Austin brings a wealth of coaching experience to the table,” Smith said. “He has a great feel for what it takes to win and is an excellent teacher of the game. Our guards were some of the best in the league at South Dakota because of Austin’s abilities. He brings a pit bull mentality to the game and will not be outworked.

“Austin and Eric are the total package,” he continued. “They are great coaches, recruiters, and mentors for the men in our program. They have wonderful families that will thrive in Logan. We went 48-21 over the last two years at South Dakota and both of these men were a major reason for our success.”

While at South Dakota, the Coyotes enjoyed unprecedented success at the Division I level with back-to-back 20-win seasons, a regular season Summit League Championship and the school’s first ever appearance in the Summit League Tournament Championship game. Overall, USD was 79-55 (.590) over the past four seasons, including 38-26 (.594) in conference play. In the past two seasons alone, South Dakota was 48-21 (.696) and 23-7 (.767) in league play, while advancing to a pair of postseason appearances in the NIT and CBI.

Hansen was responsible for the perimeter players at USD, guiding his athletes to several all-league honors and one of the most efficient offenses in the Summit League. Junior guard Matt Mooney was a two-time, first-team all-Summit League selection after leading the Coyotes in scoring in back-to-back seasons with 18.7 points per game as a junior and 18.6 points as a sophomore. Overall, USD led the Summit League in field goal percentage, shooting 47.6 percent (1,017-of-2,136) from the floor last season.

South Dakota was one of the best in ball security under Hansen’s watch, finishing second each of the past two seasons in turnovers per game. USD was also one of the top programs in the Summit League in creating turnovers, finishing second and third in steals per game, while finishing second and first in turnover margin. Mooney was another big part of the Coyotes’ success defensively, finishing second in the Summit League with 2.3 steals per game last season.

Prior to USD, Hansen was an assistant coach at Northern Colorado for a season, where he helped the Bears to an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament and an 18-14 overall mark.

Hansen joined UNC following five years as an assistant coach at his alma mater, South Dakota State. Hansen helped the Jackrabbits to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013, along with two Summit League Tournament Championships and one regular season title. Hansen was also the lead recruiter of SDSU’s Nate Wolters, the all-time leading scorer in South Dakota State history with 2,353 points and a 2013 NBA Draft pick.

Hansen began his coaching career at Minnesota State in Mankato, Minn., helping the Mavericks post an overall mark of 116-37, including four-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Hansen coached 12 players to all-North Central Conference honors, including two MVP awards and placed five on the academic all-NCC teams.

“I’m excited and extremely grateful to be joining coach Smith and his staff at Utah State,” Hansen said. “He’s a proven winner at every level and always does it the right way. The history, tradition and support of USU basketball makes this a great opportunity for me. Our family is really looking forward to being a part of the Aggie family.”

As a player at South Dakota State, Hansen was a four-year letterwinner and a two-time team captain, while earning a pair of all-region and three all-NCC honors. Hansen led the Jackrabbits in scoring all four years and finished his playing career as the second-leading 3-point shooter and third-leading scorer in program history. During his junior year, Hansen led the Jackrabbits to a North Central Conference regular season and postseason championship.

Hansen, originally from Valley Springs, S.D., was named the South Dakota High School Mr. Basketball in 1998. He and his wife, Andrea, have three daughters: Hannah, Hadlee and Harper.

Utah State head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith has also named Eric Peterson as an assistant coach to the program, it was announced Friday. Peterson was a member of Smith’s staff at South Dakota, having coached in Vermillion each of the past four seasons. Peterson is one of two coaches joining Smith from South Dakota as Austin Hansen was also announced as an assistant coach on Friday.

“Eric has one of the brightest minds in the game,” Smith said. “He is intelligent and has a great feel for the game. He did a great job with our big men at South Dakota and I know he will do great things here in Logan. He possesses great recruiting ties throughout the country and within the junior college ranks.

“Austin and Eric are the total package,” he continued. “They are great coaches, recruiters, and mentors for the men in our program. They have wonderful families that will thrive in Logan. We went 48-21 over the last two years at South Dakota and both of these men were a major reason for our success.”

While at South Dakota, the Coyotes enjoyed unprecedented success at the Division I level with back-to-back 20-win seasons, a regular season Summit League Championship and the school’s first-ever appearance in the Summit League Tournament Championship game. Overall, USD was 79-55 (.590) over the past four seasons, including a 38-26 (.594) mark in conference play. In the past two seasons alone, South Dakota was 48-21 (.696) and 23-7 (.767) in league play, while advancing to a pair of postseason appearances in the NIT and CBI.

Peterson directly worked with the post players at South Dakota, mentoring his charges to a first-team all-Summit League honor for Tyler Flack, and a pair of second-team all-Summit League accolades in Trey Burch-Manning and Tyler Hagedorn. Last season, Burch-Manning finished sixth in the Summit League in rebounds per game, averaging 6.8 per contest. Hagedorn finished second on the team with 13.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest, while leading the team with 28 blocks during the year. Burch-Manning was also named to the Summit League all-Newcomer Team in 2016-17 after finishing fourth in the Summit League with 7.8 rebounds per contest during league play in his first year in Vermillion. That same season, Flack finished second on the team with 15.2 points per game and led the Coyotes with 6.8 rebounds per game and totaled 41 blocks.

Over the past two seasons in the Summit League, South Dakota finished third (37.69 rpg) and second (37.38 rpg), respectively, in total rebounds per game, and ranked third both seasons in offensive rebounds per game with 10.26 offensive rebounds per game in 2017-18 and 10.44 offensive rebounds per game in 2016-17.

In addition to working with the posts, Peterson was also in charge of scheduling for the Coyotes and didn’t shy away from tough competition. In 2017-18, South Dakota played at Duke, and took both UCLA and TCU to the wire in road contests in Los Angeles, Calif., and Forth Worth, Texas. The 2016-17 schedule included road games at Nebraska and Gonzaga, while the 2015-16 schedule included a victory at Minnesota, 85-81, in double overtime, snapping the Golden Gophers’ 47-game non-conference home winning streak.

“My family and I could not be more excited to be at Utah State. The tradition and fan support that has been associated with the men’s basketball program is second to none,” Peterson said. “The opportunity to continue to work for coach Smith and be part of the Aggie community is a privilege. I look forward to helping build this program into a contender in the Mountain West.”

Prior to USD, Peterson was the head men’s basketball coach and Director of Athletics at Williston State College, a junior college in Williston, N.D. During his tenure, the Tetons compiled an overall mark of 52-15 and captured the 2014 Mon-Dak Conference Championship and the 2013 Region XIII Championship. In his final season at WSC, the Tetons won 27 games, had their best winning percentage in program history and earned the program’s first-ever top-25 ranking. The performance led to Mon-Dak Coach of the Year honors and a pair of NJCAA All-American honors for Marquel Curtis and Trey Dickerson. As the AD, Williston State added hockey and softball during his watch, along with various renovation projects of the WSC facilities.

Peterson was also an assistant coach at Williston State from 2005-09, coaching three All-Americans before departing for two years while serving as an assistant coach at Minnesota State Moorhead.

While at Minnesota State Moorhead, Peterson helped the Dragons to their first winning season in 10 years. The following year, Moorhead opened with 11-straight victories, was ranked as high as No. 16 in the national polls and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Individually, the Dragons generated a pair of Division II All-Americans in Jordan Riewer and Alex Novak.

Peterson cut his coaching teeth at La Crescent High School in La Crescent, Minn., before coaching the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, regarded as one of the top AAU programs in Milwaukee, Wis.

Peterson is originally from West Salem, Wis., and graduated from UW-La Crosse with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also holds a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in sports management and education from South Dakota.

Peterson and his wife, Lindsey, have a daughter, Flynn, and two sons, Isaiah and Briggs.

Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@Aggiehoops). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).

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