Carson Wentz is expected to be a top pick in the 2016 NFL draft, which already makes him one of the most notable athletes from North Dakota.
With a population of nearly 750,000, North Dakota ranks 47th among the 50 states. For context, there are more people in Jacksonville. But North Dakota has produced some All-Stars, MVPs and Hall of Famers. Not all were born in the state, and some lived there longer than others, but they can all claim legitimate roots to North Dakota.
Jackson was born in Montana. He played high school basketball in Williston, North Dakota, and helped the team win two state championships. He played his college ball at University of North Dakota, and the Knicks picked him in the second round of the 1967 NBA draft. He was a key reserve on the Knicks' 1973 championship team, then went on to win 11 titles as coach of the Bulls and Lakers.
Maris was born in Minnesota. His family moved to North Dakota when he was about 8. Maris was a football star at Shanley High School in Fargo, and Bud Wilkinson recruited him to play at Oklahoma. But Maris opted for baseball, signing with the Indians. After a trade to the Yankees, Maris won the AL MVP award in 1960 and 1961, when he set the MLB single-season record with 61 home runs.
Rousey was born in California. Her family moved to Jamestown, North Dakota, when she was 3. Rousey had been diagnosed with apraxia, a speech disorder, and the reason for the move was so that she could work with therapists at Minot State University. After Rousey's father died, the family returned to California by the time she was in fifth grade. Rousey went on to win a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympics and become the first women's champion in UFC history.
Erstad was born in Jamestown. He was a star in football, hockey and track at his high school, which didn't have a baseball team. Erstad went to Nebraska and was the punter for the Cornhuskers' 1994 national championship team. He also played baseball at Nebraska, and the Angels picked him first overall in the 1995 MLB draft. Erstad was a two-time All-Star and helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series.
Olson was born in Mayville and grew up on a farm in the small town near the Minnesota border. He attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis. After coaching at two Minnesota high schools, Olson made the jump to college and became a Hall of Famer. His teams reached the Final Four five times, and he won a national title with Arizona in 1997.
Kleinsasser was born in Carrington. He was a three-sport star at Carrington High, then played at University of North Dakota. The Minnesota Vikings picked him in the second round of the 1999 draft, and he was the second tight end taken that year. Kleinsasser played his entire 13-year career with the Vikings, working as a tight end and a fullback. He finished with 192 receptions, 1,688 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Hafner was born in Jamestown and went to high school in Sykeston. After playing junior college in Kansas, Hafner had a 12-year career in the majors, mostly with Cleveland, and hit 293 home runs, including a career-high 42 in 2006.
Hill was born in Missouri, but grew up in Grand Forks and Williston. He earned a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics, then won five world titles as a light heavyweight and a cruiserweight. He finished his pro career at 51-7 with 24 knockouts. This included his comeback/farewell fight as a 51-year-old in 2015.
Wentz was born in Bismarck. He didn't get any scholarship offers from the big-time schools and attended North Dakota State. He was a starter for two seasons, both of which ended with the FCS national championship. Already projected to be a first-round pick, Wentz boosted his stock further with his performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine.