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Mel Klein



One of Northern State's greatest basketball players, Klein was an outstanding coach as well. The 1957 Aberdeen Central and 1961 Northern State grad played on four South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference championship teams, three of which advanced to the NAIA national tourney. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Klein was a two-time all-SDIC player under Coach Bob Wachs, and in 1961 he was an NAIA All-American. That year he was drafted in the seventh round by the Boston Celtics, though he never played in the NBA. He was in the San Francisco Saints' (ABA) training camp when an Army physical interrupted the tryout. He coached basketball at O'Gorman High School in Sioux Falls from 1961-68, going 92-35 and winning the state Catholic title in 1963. He coached the Knights to the state Class A tourney in 1967, the first year parochial schools were eligible to compete. Klein was an assistant to Bob Mulcahy at the University of South Dakota from 1968-71. He took an Augustana College basketball program that had long suffered and had a 131-111 record in nine seasons (1971-80). Klein's Vikings were 65-59 in the North Central Conference and won the league title in 1978. Three times Augustana qualified for the regional tourney. He coached five players who were selected all-NCC three times: Bill Gross, Rich Chapman, Greg Nagel, Arvid Kramer and Mark Smed. Nagel (1977), Kramer (1978) and Smed (1983) were voted league MVP. Klein was Augustana's athletic director from 1974-80. He is a member of the O'Gorman, Northern State, SDIC and NCC halls of fame. He received Augustana's Lefty Olson Award for lifetime achievement in athletics. Klein played for Aberdeen's state Legion baseball champions in 1956. He played amateur basketball for about 15 years. He also played fastpitch softball for many years for perennial power Midwest Coast.




















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