This is the first year North Dakota State is a fully eligible Division I basketball program, and the Bison made quite the splash, reaching the NCAA tournament as the Summit League tournament champions. But for NDSU fifth-year senior forward Brett Winkelman, standing in the national spotlight is nothing new: The 6-foot-8 Winkelman is a three-time Academic All-American. ESPN t he Magazine, with the help of the College Sports Information Directors of Association, recently named him the Academic All-American of the Year for Division I basketball.
With a 3.88 grade-point average in industrial engineering and management and a minor in business administration and finance, it's no wonder Winkelman's academic success has made national news.
Being a Division I college basketball player is a tough thing to do: You have to stay on top of your game while still keeping up with school. What kinds of things do you do to keep up with class and make sure you are on top of everything?
I started my freshman year with the mind-set that if I got off to a good start, it'd carry through my entire time here. I have good time management. If you ever fall behind, the work just snowballs. So, I knew I had to get ahead by using my time wisely. And you have to go to class. That's really important. Believe it or not, I do the majority of my studying when I'm in class. That way, when I'm out of class, it's just a review.
Where do you go to get your work done?
I like to sit on my bed and spread things out so I can relax, shut the door, and keep it quiet. I can spread out my books and study sheets on my bed and have everything organized.
Do have any music or TV or anything on when you're doing work?
I know I'll get some heat from my teammates for this, but when I'm in my room, I'll play some classical music to ease my mind. I like instrumental music where there are no words, so I can relax.
You major in industrial engineering and management . Why di d you pick that focus?
Math and science is where I really excel. I've always been interested in business because I like the variety of jobs that you can get. I wanted to be able to do a lot of things, but I also didn't want to get a basic business degree. You can combine business and engineering.
Engineering is one of the most demanding programs at any school. How on earth do you find time to do both hoops and engineering class work?
I definitely had to build a routine. I can get up for a morning workout and then head to the lab and just stay on campus. If I go home, I'm tempted to watch a movie or play PlayStation. It's really about just not doing what I want to do but what needs to be done. I kind of set short goals and go from there. I'll say, 'I need to get this or that done by a certain time.' Otherwise, I procrastinate. That way, I'm always on top of things and getting stuff done when it has to be done.
Have you been able to do any internships or any work-experience stuff in the off-season?
Yeah, every summer, actually. I've worked here in Fargo at some of the local industries. I was at Fargo Assembly Co. last summer and worked with some engineers and did projects throughout the summer. They'd give me a project, and then I'd go work on it for however long that took. It was a great experience.
You're also a minor in business administration and finance. D o you see yourself as an upper-level management type? Maybe a CEO?
I've always liked the finance side of things from the upper-level management perspective. I'd like to be a CFO or CEO. For now, I'm looking for opportunity just out of college. I'm hoping people will present themselves to me and give me some options for good careers after I graduate.
Y ou and [star teammate] Ben Woodside went to Taiwan last summer to represent the U nited State in the Jones Cup (an international basketball tournament) . What was that experience like? Did you treat that as your kind of study abroad experience , since you can't really do that during the year?
Yeah. I'd never been overseas. It's completely different than what I'm used to in the States. I didn't see one house—it was all apartments. It really opened my eyes to things I didn't know existed. We obviously do a lot of traveling during the season—I think I've seen almost every state in the U.S.—but to go abroad was a unique experience. When this chance came along, I knew it'd be unique and pretty special, and it was pretty cool to get away from the same routine of always working out here in Fargo and play some basketball in another country.