Courtesy: Russell Hons for
Junior Conner Avants along with classmate Cortez Seales were selected to be captains on the 2017-18 North Dakota men's basketball team.
Avants, Seales ready to take on role of captain
Release: 09/21/2017
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- With a Big Sky title defense closing in quickly, North Dakota men's basketball coach Brian Jones announced his staff's selections on Thursday for the role of captains on the 2017-18 Fighting Hawks. Juniors Conner Avants and Cortez Seales will add that moniker to their responsibilities for the upcoming campaign that begins in Hawaii in just under two months at the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic (Nov. 10-13). 

"People really gravitate towards Tez. He has always had a team-first attitude. He's very selfless and there is no ego with him whatsoever," Jones said. "He's about the team and the program and will do whatever it takes to help us win.

"Conner is the same way. He's going to lead by his work ethic and by demanding his teammates to work at that same level. Both guys, ultimately, are we over me guys, program guys."

Seales has come off the bench in his first two seasons at UND and excelled in that role. After averaging 7.5 ppg as a freshman, he upped that total to 8.5 ppg as a sophomore when the Big Sky coaches selected him as the league's Reserve of the Year. Avants also came off the bench as a freshman, but shifted into a starting role on the 2016-17 team that won a Division I program record 22 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since making the transiition prior to the 2008-08 season.

Avants increased his scoring by nearly three points from his freshman to sophomore seasons (6.8 to 9.5 ppg) and was second on the team in rebounding a season ago, pulling down 4.8 boards per game. He started 30 of 31 contests. 

"With one being a forward and one being guard, they have the ability to lead their units, so I'm excited for them to do that," Jones added. "This will help them continue to grow as they become upperclassmen and they were able to learn under Quinton (Hooker) for two years. Q was vocal when he needed to be vocal, but he was living his life the right way both on and off the floor. Both of them are similar in that way. It will take a little bit of time for them to get comfortable in this new role, but they've had two years to watch the guys before them do it and I'm excited to see what they can do for our team as captains." 

As for the new captains' thoughts on taking on this responsibility, both are eager and ready to do their best to ensure the continued success this program has seen over the past couple of seasons.

"We have talked a lot about creating our own culture around this program and I feel like we have done that in the past couple of years," Avants said. "With a lot of new guys, it just comes down to trying to get them to buy into what we have created and the successes we've experienced will continue."

Seales, who was a four-year captain at North Scott High School, is also realistic in knowing that being a captain in college will be different than his days as a prep standout in Iowa. "I think I need to do what those in this role have done before me, like Q" he said. "He came everyday and worked hard. On and off the court, he was a great example and taught me a lot. So, for me to be a good captain, I just need to follow in his footsteps."

He also admitted to wanting this role and just biding his time before it came to fruition. "I've been waiting on this day for a while," Seales added. "Before I came here, I planned on making an impact in every way that I could and for them make me a captain means a lot. It shows I've put in the hard work and that I'm willing to continue to do that."

-- UND --

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