Dawson-Boyd senior Nathaniel Huot has had dreams of playing college basketball for years. Turning himself into one of the top guards in southwest Minnesota, he has certainly put himself on the right path.
A wide receiver on a Blackjack football team that has a predominately run-oriented offense, Huot had never even thought of playing college football. That is, not until Nov. 2 after the Section 5A championship game against Minneota/Lincoln HI when he had 217 yards receiving and four total touchdowns in a 42-21 win at Southwest Minnesota State University's Mattke Field. The performance opened the eyes of the SMSU football team's coaching staff, who in turn opened Huot's eyes when they showed interest in the 6-foot senior and let him know that he could also have a future in football.
Huot had his option to play football or basketball at SMSU, but he couldn't choose between the two, so he decided to choose both. Last Thursday, Huot gave his verbal commitment to Mustang basketball coach Brad Bigler and SMSU football coach Cory Sauter that he would join their teams.
Indepependent file photo
Dawson-Boyd guard Nathaniel Huot, center, shoots over a pair of Southwest Minnesota Christian defenders during Saturday’s game at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University. Huot scored his 1,000th career point in the game. He averaged 16.9 points per game for the Blackjacks last year as a junior and earned Independent Player of the Year honors.
Playing football and basketball at the high school level is one thing. Doing it at the collegiate level requires even more of a time commitment and a takes a greater physical toll. Huot, who is two games into his senior season of basketball after a run to the state tournament semifinals in football, says he's capable of handling both.
"We talked about that, and during the football season I'll just be a football player and will try to do some basketball things on the side," Huot said. "I have to be able to have a ball in my hands a little bit during that time, but when that's over I'll be all in on basketball until spring football starts up."
Huot's greatest passion lies with basketball, but he's had standout careers in both sports. Last year as a junior he averaged 16.9 points per game and led the Marshall area with 67 made 3-pointers on his way to earning Independent Player of the Year accolades. He also averaged 3.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals while helping Dawson-Boyd to a runner-up finish in the Section 3A tournament and a 26-3 record. As a receiver for the Blackjack football team in 2012, Huot led the area with 58 receptions and 1,079 receiving yards in 13 games.
Bigler has shown interest in Huot for a while now, going to several of his games in both basketball and football. Huot said that that commitment by the coach was part of what sold him on the SMSU basketball program.
"Just him showing that he really wanted me there by coming to a lot of my games since my sophomore year," Huot said, "he's been to a lot of games, a lot of home games, and really been there for me, so it really showed that he wanted me."
Huot said his greatest attribute as a basketball player is probably his ability to knock down shots. Cory Larson, Dawson-Boyd's head basketball and football coach, said Huot should be able to find a nice niche with the Mustangs thanks to his skill set.
"It'll certainly be a different role for him. At the college level he'll probably be more of a role player, a kid who can knock down open shots for you and defend," Larson said. "That's one thing you probably don't see a lot out of him at the high school level. He's an above-average defender, but he plays so many minutes that you probably don't see the intensity out of him because of that. But I think Coach Bigler will certainly get that out of him."
Huot has shown the ability to step up for his team in big moments, both as a basketball player and football player. Part of the reason for his increased production at the end of the football season was due to a series of injuries to Dawson-Boyd's running backs. Larson said Huot had always done well as a blocker on the perimeter for the Blackjack running backs, but the injuries allowed him to show off his abilities as a playmaker.
"This year towards the end of the season we certainly needed him to step up and fill a bigger role offensively, and he did," Larson said. "To us, it wasn't all that surprising because we kind of knew he had the potential."
Huot said he was also considering going to Minnesota-Crookston, but would have only had the opportunity to play basketball there.