Many familiar faces return for 2023-24 Mavs men’s basketball

Mavericks got off to a great start to begin their season with an 83-54 win against Gustavus Adolphus in an exhibition match. 

The Mavericks started hot and took a commanding lead and didn’t look back. They dominated from the get-go and  never relented. 

In this exhibition game, all 15 players were able to see the court and make the most of their minutes. One of the biggest highlights was seeing the connection between senior and junior guard duo Malik Willingham and Harrison Braudis, with Willingham finding Braduis on many occasions to connect for some points on the board. 

The game served as a welcome to the other four new recruits, freshman guards Jalen Cain and Will Opsahl, junior guard Justin Eagins, and senior forward Dylan Peeters.

The exhibition marked the debut of senior Guard Elijah Hazekemp who did not disappoint. Hazekamp had played his last three years at Truman State transferring to MSU for the 2023-24 season. His experience and presence showed with his command on the floor and were strengthened by his and-ones which showed his dominance and a sign of a big season to come from the guard. 

The all-time winningest Coach Matthew Margenthaler was able to kick off his 23rd as head coach. Margentaler has put together 20 winning seasons.

“It was nice to get this exhibition game under our belt tonight. We know exactly what we need to work on with game week coming up.” 

With a demanding win and action-packed night, It’s safe to say Maverick Basketball is officially back!! 

The Mavs will play 14 of their 28 regular season games at home in the Taylor Center for the upcoming season, including their final two games of the season.

Last season, the Minnesota State men’s basketball team’s season was ended by the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Heading into this season, they are ranked directly behind them in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. 

The Mavs come in at no. 2 in the annual NSIC predictions poll. Many of the same faces that led them to their 17-12 record from a season ago will be back for the 2023-24 season. Malik and Kyreese Willingham, Harrison Braudis and Brady Williams all started a significant chunk of games for the Mavs in the 2022-23 season. 

But it is Malik that was named MSU’s Player to Watch for the upcoming season. Last season, he was named to the NSIC All-First Team as he led the Mavs in points and assists with 485 and 104, respectively. His 41 point game against Concordia St. Paul was a career-high for him and made him the first Maverick to score 40+ points since 2019.

Head coach Matt Margenthaler also returns to the team for his 23rd season. He has over 400 wins and six Coach of the Year awards, three as NCC Coach of the Year and three as NSIC Coach of the Year. 

Margenthaler also announced back in April that the team would be adding five student-athletes to their program. Jalen Cain, Justin Eagins, Elijah Hazekamp, Will Opsahl and Dylan Peeters make up the 2023-24 men’s basketball recruiting class.

“These five student-athletes will be a great addition to our program next season,” Margenthaler said in a press release posted to the Maverick Athletics website. “With the two freshmen and three transfers I believe we filled every spot needed for our roster.

The Mavs spent a significant amount of time in the NSIC top-25 early in the year last season before they were ravaged by injuries and were unable to pick the pieces back up in time to make a playoff run. With their new recruits and returning talent, the sky’s the limit for a very talented Mavericks team.

The Mavericks will kick off their first games of the season on the road in Kansas City, Missouri, where they will be facing Southern Arkansas on Friday, November 10th at 5 p.m., and Arkansas-Monticello on Saturday, November 11th at 5 pm. 

Header Photo: The Mavs begin their season this weekend at the Central Region Challenge in Kansas City, Mo. where they will take on Southern Arkansas and Arkansas-Monticello. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at

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