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Former Tiger Winkelman signs to play in Italy

By Heath Hotzler

Forum Communications

Former Bison forward Brett Winkelman this week signed a one-year contract with a team in Italy's second division. Winkelman declined to disclose financial terms of the deal with Pavia of the Italian LegaDue, but said it was on the high end or beyond the average $40,000 to $70,000 scale for rookies.

"It's one of the top second divisions in Europe," said Winkelman, whose Bison teammate Ben Woodside will play in the NBA Summer League in July in hopes of hooking on with a team. "... This one jumped out at me as the best offer. It was almost a no-brainer. Everything fit as far as what my criteria were."

Winkelman, from Morris, said his agent received a few offers last month. Things started to heat up again last week when teams from Italy, Belgium, Poland and Turkey called with offers, Winkelman said.

The community, money and opportunity for playing time made the Pavia offer stand out. Pavia is located about 25 miles south of fashion capital Milan.

"To be in a good league and be in a league I could go and play right away (was a key)," said Winkelman, who averaged 18.6 points per game last season. "... It looked like it would be a lot of fun. But I might have to look into (language-learning software) Rosetta Stone. I don't know any Italian."

A 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, Winkelman was a major contributor for the Bison's first-ever run to the NCAA tournament.

NDSU finished 26-7 en route to The Summit League regular season and tournament titles.

The Bison were defeated by defending champion Kansas 84-74 in the first round of the national tourney.

Former Bison guard Mike Nelson could add to the Fab Four's professional resume.

Nelson, who averaged 11.6 points a game last year, said Monday that he will likely sign in the next few weeks with a team in Spain or France. Nelson said his agent has placed 100 percent of his clients with a professional team.

"It's a waiting game," said Nelson, from Madison, Wis. "I'm just staying in good shape, and I'll be ready to go hopefully at the end of August. I'm just eager to know what my future plans are going to be."