CollegeFrontier Conference


'Nothing beats playing in Montana': Froid's Sydney Dethman ready to help lift Rocky as seasoned D-I transfer

Posted at 4:14 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 18:24:34-04

BILLINGS — Entrenched as a team leader, Sydney Dethman spent her junior season at Division I Fresno State as a captain, a regular starter and a key contributor.

Thus, her decision to transfer to play for coach Wes Keller and Rocky Mountain College in the NAIA Frontier Conference for the upcoming 2024-25 season might seem a bit curious on the surface. But for the 6-foot-2 Dethman the choice was simple.

"Nothing beats playing in Montana," the former Froid-Lake star told MTN Sports during a phone conversation from Fresno, Calif.

The announcement of Dethman's signing with Rocky was made via social media on Wednesday, and it provides the Battlin' Bears with an immediate impact player with D-I credentials in the team's quest to return to the top of the Frontier.

This past season, Dethman started 31 games for Fresno State, averaging 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds while playing 22 minutes per game. In all, Dethman made 54 career starts with the Bulldogs. She credited Fresno State associate head coach Mandi Carver, a former Dillon and Idaho State standout, with helping her develop along the way.

At Rocky, Dethman's goals are two-pronged — to have continued success both on the court and in the classroom as she pursues her studies in psychology.

"I had a lot of other D-I schools reach out, but ultimately my goal was to be back in Montana," said Dethman, who said she entertained overtures from the Montana Lady Griz and NCAA Division II Montana State Billings. "Since I have one year of eligibility left, graduating was super important for me. Rocky can graduate me in the two semesters that I need and then I can pursue my master's degree.

"Rocky just kind of checked a lot of the boxes. I have a good relationship with coach Keller. Their program has been very successful. My sister (Mackenzie) came from that program and she had a good experience. So I'm looking to kind of also have a good experience and just kind of finish out my final year strong."

Another reason for Dethman's decision to transfer — fitting in with her desire to return to the Treasure State — is to have the opportunity to play in front of and be closer to family and friends again. That wasn't always an option at Fresno State.

Dethman mentioned her sister Mackenzie, who helped Rocky win the Frontier and reach the Round of 8 at the NAIA national tournament in 2022, and among her siblings is also her younger brother Mason, another Froid-Lake standout who is slated to join the football program at Montana State this fall.

But when you come from a town like Froid, and it's population of roughly 200 people, the support extends beyond immediate family.

"I come from a small school, Class C in northeast Montana, and the support you get is just insane," Dethman said. "I would have my old school-bus driver text me saying, 'I watched your game.' Over Thanksgiving I had some family friends and my old basketball coach watch us play GCU (Grand Canyon) in Arizona, and that meant the world to me, just knowing I had their support.

"But if they can come to the games more often and you hear their voices and get to see them and see their smiles and have them physically be there to support you, it's really a special thing."

With respect to her goals at Rocky, Dethman hopes to be an impact player to help the Battlin' Bears return to the level they rose to in that 2021-22 campaign. She hopes to help build team chemistry and find a role and fill it the best she can.

Dethman, who led Fresno State in rebounding nine times during her three years there, also wants to develop her individual skills — shoot better, rebound better, protect the basketball better — but is intent on contributing mostly to the team aspect of the game.

The Frontier Conference, and the NAIA as a whole, is fiercely competitive, Dethman said.

"I think all levels are the same. Players have different skills, but I think anyone can compete with anyone given the circumstances," she said. "You have some standout players. You had (Jamie) Pickens at Carroll. She came from Division I at Montana. Then you had (Kola) Bad Bear at MSUB and you saw how well they did.

"So I think it gives me confidence to be like, 'It's OK to come to a level and also have success and be comfortable playing and have fun.' So yeah, I'd say it's competitive and just a really, really fun league."