The University of South Dakota's Tyler Cain has signed a contract to play for VEF Riga of the Baltic Basketball League in Latvia. Cain leaves tomorrow to join the squad.
"This all came together kind of quick," Cain said. "It's a lot of feelings. I'm excited about it and excited to be playing basketball. I have a job to do now and that's go play hard."
Founded in 2004, the BBL is divided into the Elite division and the Challenge Cup division. The 10 strongest Baltic clubs participate in the Elite division, while the rest compete in the Challenge Cup. The winner of the Challenge Cup is promoted to the Elite division and the last team of the Elite division is relegated to the Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup runner-up challenges the ninth-place club of the Elite division in two matches for a place in the Elite division. VEF Riga, located in the city of Riga in the middle of the country, went 8-10 last season to finish sixth in the Elite Division.
"VEF Riga is a well-established team that is expected to do well each season," Cain said. "It's going to be a new experience playing with a new team, but hopefully I can find a way to help the team and adapt to how they play. I want to be a successfully player and help them win."
Cain notched one of the best all-around seasons in USD history as a senior in 2009-10. He earned Great West Conference Player of the Year, GWC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-GWC honors while leading the Coyotes to a 22-10 overall record and 11-1 in the conference. USD won the GWC regular season and tournament to qualify for the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Cain led the team in points (14.7), rebounds (10.4), blocks (3.0) and steals (1.5) while scoring in double figures in 27 games with 14 double-doubles. He posted a career-high 34 points against Texas-Pan American on March 3 and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds. He was named GWC Player of the Week twice and the student-athlete of the month for December.
A native of Rochester, MN, Cain became the second player in USD men's basketball history with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. He finished 11th on USD's scoring chart with 1,390 points, second in rebounding (1,088) and eighth in steals (184). He owns USD's career blocked shots record with 361 and also set the top four single-season marks in the category. He notched 36 career double-doubles in 115 starts.
Cain graduated from USD in May with a bachelor's degree in recreation, and earned GWC Academic All-Conference honors twice.