MARQUETTE - A recent coaching change at Northern Michigan University has drawn in two top U.P. basketball talents excited to be part of the Division 2 program's rebuilding process.
Mid Peninsula center Brett Branstrom recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Wildcats, and Carney-Nadeau guard Wade Schetter will join the team as a preferred walk-on.
Both players mentioned the hiring of Bill Sall as a key factor in their decision to attend NMU.
Mid Peninsula’s Brett Branstrom goes up for a shot against North Central on Feb. 23. Branstrom has committed to play for new Northern Michigan University head men’s basketball coach Bill Sall this fall after having All-U.P. seasons as a senior. (Escanaba Daily Press file photo)
"We were pretty close to signing with Lake State," said Branstrom Friday night. "Coach Sall gave me a call his first day on the job. We went up there and really liked how he wants to run the program. He seemed like he really wanted me and made an offer.
"All in all, it just works out better to go to Northern."
Branstrom, the Escanaba-area's career boys scoring leader with 1,785 points, is among the state's career leaders in rebounds and blocks. He also had offers from Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State, but said Sall's track record spoke for itself, adding that NMU wasn't even on his radar before he was hired.
"He sold himself very well and his track record with Ferris State made the decision easier," said Branstrom. "He's proven that he can turn around a program and I'm almost positive he'll do it with Northern too."
The basketball program at NMU hasn't had a lot of recent success, but both Branstrom and Schetter said part of the draw was the opportunity to be part of the group that turns things around.
"I think that puts a stamp on it," said Schetter. "It makes you want to work and compete to back to where they were."
Schetter said he had offers from four other schools and had an opportunity at a couple of junior colleges, but chose to walk-on at NMU after meeting with the coaching staff.
"The way the coach made it sound, he's trying to turn everything around and I bought into what he's trying to do," Schetter said. "I"m pretty excited to do all I can to help out, compete at a higher level and bring the program back to where it was."
Schetter is Carney-Nadeau's career scoring leader with 1,561 points and is among the state's all-time leaders in steals. He was a key player in the Wolves' final four run in 2012.
For five years - both played basketball as eighth graders - Schetter and Branstrom have gone head-to-head on the court and have been friends off of it.
"It's going to be fun," said Branstrom. "Me and Wade are pretty good friends and we've always wanted to play together. I like Wade's game. It should be a fun four years."
Schetter said Branstrom's decision wasn't a factor in his own process, but looked forward to playing with the 6-foot-5 big man.
"I was pretty excited to hear that Brett is going there too," Schetter said. "I'm pretty sure we'll room together and we're both excited to play together."
Aside from basketball, Branstrom said NMU has a lot to offer.
"Academics played into everything as well. Northern is a good school. I like the campus and I've been around it a lot. My older brother and sister went there and I'd only be an hour away from home," he said. "People will come to see me play, my family will be close, there are a lot of things about Northern that made this an easy decision."