SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – I was watching the 2022 NBA draft last month when I got the idea, what would it be like if we here in South Dakota had our own basketball draft? So, I decided I’d create one.
The goal of every NBA team is to win a title. While trades and free agency may help build a team, more times than not, the cornerstone of a championship roster is a player who was drafted, then developed by that same organization.
In the state of South Dakota, the highest level of basketball is the G-League. The Skyforce, an affiliate of the Miami Heat, call Sioux Falls home. We will us this as our template when selecting players when counting down from 20-1.
NOTE: To be eligible for the South Dakota Basketball Draft you must have played your college basketball in the state of South Dakota during the 2021-2022 season.
Here is the scenario: You’re starting an NBA G-League team from scratch. You have just two years to win a G-League championship.
Here, in my opinion, are the 20 best college basketball players from this past season who played in the Mount Rushmore State.
20. The Memphis Hustle (Memphis) select:
Damani Hayes 6’4 – South Dakota
There were several players I considered for the 20th spot including Augustana guard Isaac Fink, SDSU’s Matt Dentlinger and former Coyote Boogie Anderson, but Hayes gets the nod.
Hayes may be undersized as a Division I player who makes his living in & around the paint, but what he lacks in height, he compensates for with strength and a heck of a motor.
Last season, of his 138 total rebounds, nearly half of them came from the offensive glass. Is he going to be someone who gives you 17 points a night? Maybe not. But he brings the kind of attitude every team covets and that’s valuable.
19. The Windy City Bulls (Chicago) select
Matt Mims 6’0 – South Dakota State
When you have a team chalk full of talented guards, some more than others won’t quite get the minutes they would elsewhere. That was reality for Mims last season as South Dakota State.
He appeared in 34 games and flashed signs of a promising guard. 80 of his 100 shots came from beyond the arc with the soon to be 4th year junior cashing in 46% of them. With Baylor Scheierman off to Creighton, expect Mims’ role to increase in 2022-23.
18. The Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State) select
Adam Dykman 6’7 – Augustana
He isn’t the flashiest of ball players, but he sure is the most experienced. After 7 years of college basketball, you know what you’re getting with Adam Dykman.
He can score in the post or step out and hit a 15-footer, he’s an above average rebounder and a good defender, and probably one of the better athletes in this “draft class”. I have Dykman checking in at No. 18.
My feature story on Dykman’s 7 year college basketball journey can be watched here.
17. The Iowa Wolves (Minnesota) select
Xaiver Fuller 6’4 – South Dakota (Since Transferred)
A lengthy guard that has a nice all around game.
During his two years in Vermillion, the Mesa, Arizona native averaged a shade under 10 points an outing, but did score 20 or more points five times as a Coyote.
Fuller was slowed with a knee injury and could never find any real rhythm during the back half of last year. But when healthy, he’s a solid third scoring option. He’s since transferred to Northern Arizona for his graduate season.
16. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana) select
Hunter Goodrick 6’7 – South Dakota (Since Transferred)
Known as ‘Goody’ by his teammates, Goodrick’s numbers won’t blow you away. But I truly believe the Aussie’s best days of basketball are still ahead of him.
He’s every inch of 6’7 and has good shooting mechanics. You’d see it here and there during live game action, but I went to several practices and saw the kind of footwork and touch he has around the rim. He simply needs to be more aggressive; he has the skill to be a double digit scorer with ease. He’ll play in the WAC next season for the California Baptist Lancers.
15. The Maine Celtics (Boston) select
Matt Cartwright 6’4 – Sioux Falls
I would love to see how Cartwright’s game would size up against Summit League competition.
He isn’t lightning quick, but can create for himself off the dribble with a more than reliable pull up “J”. He was the focal point of opposing defenses last year with USF, but still found a way to put up 19 PPG.
He also dropped 29 points during the first week of the season in an upset win over Northwest Missouri State, the eventual national champions in Division II. Cartwright was recently granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA.
14. The Westchester Knicks (New York) select
Alex Arians 6’4 – South Dakota State
Heading to New York with the 14th overall section is SDSU’s Alex Arians.
While not identical, himself and Cartwright have similar skill sets. Arians plays with an easiness to his game that reflects in his efficiency. He shot 48% from the field this past season while dropping in an eye popping 49% of his threes. He’s a sharp shooting lefty, but does have a good intermediate game. He can & will put the ball on the floor and is a sneaky good passer. He returns next season for the Jackrabbits.
13. The Grand Rapids Gold (Denver) select
Charlie Easley 6’2 – South Dakota State
The string of SDSU guards continues with Charlie Easley coming off the board next.
I just mentioned how efficient Arians was as a shooter, well, Easley was even better.
He shot 52% from the field while hitting 50% of his three point shots. You just don’t see that from a 6’2 guard. The reason I went with Easley one spot ahead of his teammate was because of his on-ball defense. I saw a kid who seemed to take pride in defending. He too returns next season to a loaded back court in Brookings.
12. The Texas Legends (Dallas) select
Noah Freidel 6’4 – South Dakota State (Since Transferred)
There’s no player in this draft, for better or worse, who’s as captivating as Noah Friedel.
Talent wise, he’s probably a top 5 pick. With a two year window to win a G-League championship, a team may take their chances. But the fact of the matter is, without going into any speculation what so ever, he has not been on the basketball court nearly as much as most of the other players in this ‘draft class’. Therefore, I’ll slot him 12th.
I really am looking forward to following him at James Madison this upcoming season.
And wouldn’t you know it, the Savannah Invitational will be played from November 25th – 27th, and of the 10 teams participating, both SDSU and James Madison are in the field. So there’s a rather high possibility that Freidel will go toe-to-toe against his former teammates this coming season.
That’s must-see TV.
11. The Birmingham Squadron (New Orleans) select
Joel Scott 6’7 – Black Hills State
If you aren’t familiar with the name, allow me to introduce you. The 6’7 225 pound forward led Black Hills State to the Division II Final Four for the first time in program history.
Scott averaged 23.1 PPG (3rd best in DII) and 10.6 RPG. He had 21 double-doubles on the season, the 3rd most of any player in Division II and dropped 50 points in a win over Western Colorado on December 3rd. You won’t find many ball players with a better resume than that.
I think there’s an argument to list Scott a bit higher on this list, but for now, he just misses my top 10. He’s an early candidate for the Division II player of the year in 2023.
10. The Long Island Nets (Brooklyn) select
Luke Appel 6’7 – South Dakota State
The 2022 Summit League Sixth Man of the Year is heading to Long Island.
Scoring in double figures 14 times, including a 41-point performance in an instant classic 106-102 overtime win on the road against Oral Roberts, Appel is one of the best low post scorers in the region.
He’s a lefty by nature, but can finish with either hand. Combine his nifty footwork with broad shoulders that carve out space and you have yourself a problem in the paint. There’s little doubt he’ll slide into the Jacks starting five this upcoming season.
9. The College Park Skyhawks (Atlanta) select
AJ Plitzuweit 6’2 – South Dakota
If it wasn’t for the seriousness of his knee injury, Plitzuweit would have been bumped up a few more slots. But with just a two year window to win a title, you don’t have the luxury of patience. Therefore, 9th overall fits the bill.
The redshirt sophomore’s progress during his 3rd year in Vermillion will be one of the early season story lines. While he may be fully healthy and ready to go by game one, after missing more than a full year of basketball, it’s going to take time before he’s fully comfortable again. But with that said, this is not the same Coyote team he led 2 seasons ago.
The Yotes, much like the Jackrabbits, now boast one of the best & deepest backcourts in the Summit. North Dakota transfer Paul Bruns enters his first year with USD as the reigning conference Freshman of the Year, second year guard Keaton Kutcher will be pushing for minutes, and two Coyotes that will appear quite soon on this list have become go to playmakers.
Coming back from the kind of injury Plitzuweit suffered on February 21st, 2021, it’s fair to expect his scoring (19.0 PPG in 2021) to dip in 2023. But that possible drop off will probably have much more to do with the kind of talent that now surrounds him.
One of the Coyote’s standout guards will have to take on more of a facilitating role and I wouldn’t be surprised if A.J. Plitzuweit becomes that guy.
8. The Agua Caliente Clippers (Los Angeles) select
Kruz Perrott-Hunt 6’3 – South Dakota
Staying with South Dakota ball handlers, next up is Kruz Perrott-Hunt.
After scoring 7.0 PPG as a sophomore, the New Zealand native came into his own during his third year in Vermillion putting up 15 points per contest. The absence of Plitzuweit led to more responsibility and opportunity on offense for several others, including Perrott-Hunt, who took 230 more shots than he did the season before.
He’s solid in all facets of the game. He was rightfully named Second Team All-Summit League in 2022, and so was his back court running mate who emerges just one spot ahead of him as we move down the index.
7. The South Bay Lakers (Los Angeles) select
Mason Archambault 6’0 – South Dakota
I went back and forth when deciding between Kruz Perrot-Hunt or Archambault; and the truth is, there’s no wrong choice – But I give a slight edge to the Rapid City native.
Archambault is one of my favorite players in the state. He too made a scoring jump from 5.0 PPG during his first year with USD to 14.5 PPG last season. And I think his game still has plenty of room to grow.
Pound for pound, he may be the best athlete of all 20 players on my list.
Don’t believe me? Just watch the lift he gets on his jump shots. If that hasn’t sold you, then maybe the fact that a 6’0 guard led the team in blocks (16) this past season will. He has a very quick first step and can finish at the rim, the mid-range game is there, and he nearly shot 40% from 3-point land.
After entering the transfer portal, to the delight of the coaching staff & his teammates, he opted to return to South Dakota for his senior season. Keep an eye on this kid.
Archambault speaking about the day he received an offer from USD can be watched here
6. The Capital City Go-Go (Washington) select
Tyler Riemersma 6’8 – Augustana
After starting his career at Navy, Riemersma gradually turned himself into one of the best players in Division II basketball at Augustana.
Riemersma was the Tim Duncan of D-II hoops. You won’t find any swift transition crossovers in his highlight package and you won’t find any posturizing dunks either, but what you will discover is a kid with an old school, give me the ball in the post and let me go get a bucket, kind of game.
His right handed sky-hook-esque shot was a tool he could & would use from darn near 12-15 feet from the basket. He shot 57% from the field while putting up 18.6 PPG and 11.1 RPG as a senior helping lead the Vikings to a 26-4 overall record. He leaves big shoes to fill at Augie in 2022-23.
My feature story on Riemersma can we watched here
5. The Delaware Blue Coats (Philadelphia) select
Jacksen Moni 6’10 – Northern State
How this kid had no Division I offers coming out of high school in Fargo, North Dakota is astonishing.
I realize when offering a kid a scholarship there’s several factors that come with the decision, but at 6’10 with good post moves and a nice looking jump shot, based on talent & potential alone, I have no idea what was missing. In today’s world with social media, it feels almost impossible not to get noticed. But it turns out, I guess diamonds still do fall through the cracks from time to time.
What a find & get for Saul Phillips and Northern State.
Moni put up 14.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG, hit three or more 3-point field goals in 12 games and scored 20 or more points 9 times during his freshman season with the Wolves. I’m not saying right now at this moment he’s a better player than Riemersma, but his game is just starting to evolve; he’s only going to get better. He’ll be fun to follow this coming season in Aberdeen.
4. The Motor City Cruise (Detroit) select
Tasos Kamateros 6’8 – South Dakota
Speaking of evolution, there may not be another player in the entire state who’s improved more over the past two season’s than South Dakota’s Tasos Kamateros.
Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Kamateros Initially came over to USD as a walk-on. He would appear in 13 games during his freshman year and by season’s end would be put on scholarship. He made a jump during his sophomore season and would then improve in almost every single statistical category during his third year in Vermillion.
He’s a become a solid low post scorer, evidence by the number of double teams he saw this past season. He’s really developed his outside shot and is now a real threat in pick & pop situations when he lines one up from beyond the arc. But what I like most about his game is his vision & passing ability for a big man. When defenses collapse on the 6’8 forward, he’s more than willing to dish it off to a teammate.
Putting up 11.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG & 2.0 ASP, his numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but they also don’t paint a true picture of his offensive value.
He’s already a sound basketball player and I’m banking on him taking his game to another level this coming season. The key night in and night out for Kamateros will be staying out of foul trouble. If he can do so, and their guards find a way to gel as a unit, there’s no reason the Coyotes can’t be one of the top teams in the Summit League during Eric Peterson’s first year as head coach.
My story on Kamateros’ rise at USD can be watched here.
3. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston) select
Douglas Wilson 6’7 – South Dakota State
In life, and more so throughout all of sport, you’ll hear the terms “upside” and “potential” throw out quite often. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a broadcaster or an athlete, it isn’t all to frequent that someone becomes everything that they could be.
But during his time in Brookings, that’s exactly what Douglas Wilson did.
After two seasons at Kirkwood Community College, Wilson would find himself rocking the yellow & blue. During his first season with SDSU in 2019-20, Wilson would be named the Summit League Player of the Year.
Behind jolting athleticism and a playing style featuring relentless spirit, the 6’7 220 pound bruising forward would finish his career averaging 17.3 PPG & 5.8 RPG. Baylor Scheierman may have been the best player on the Jackrabbits NCAA tournament team a season ago, but you could argue there may not have been a more important player than Wilson.
If you were to ask 10 sports journalists through out the state to rearrange this list, I’m sure a couple of them may take Wilson with the No. 2 pick. He was a unique talent that won’t soon be forgotten for what he did inside Frost Arena.
Grant Sweeter’s feature on Wilson can be watched here.
2. The Cleveland Charge (Cleveland) select
Zeke Mayo 6’3 – South Dakota State
If you’ve ever had a conversation with Zeke Mayo, he doesn’t sound like a freshman. And he sure didn’t play like one either during his inaugural season in Brookings.
Walking into a rock solid program, the young gun from Lawrence, Kansas added a flair the Jackrabbit attack that wasn’t previously on the roster. All of SDSU’s guards can play, but Mayo has a bit of an extra gear.
His talent is clear, the poise is uncanny, but perhaps most impressive was how well he understood his role. When you’re a freshman getting big minutes surrounded by veterans who can all score the rock, there’s a fine line to walk between knowing when to be aggressive and when to defer to others.
But frankly, I’m not sure that kind of thinking ever crossed his mind. He just seemed to let the game come to him and I don’t know that you can quite teach that.
Knowing what he could become, the lowest I could see Mayo falling in this draft would be to Houston at No. 3; but I’m taking him at two.
Sure, the Jacks are losing some mighty big pieces from their historic team a season ago, but there’s room to believe they may just be dancing again come next March because of Mayo and company.
Sean Bower’s feature on Mayo can be seen here.
- The Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami) select
Baylor Scheierman 6’6 – South Dakota State (Since Transferred)
No surprise & no debate here. His resume leaves nothing to question.
I’m very much looking forward to how he plays this upcoming season at Creighton. During his time at SDSU, he was the primary ball handler & play maker. But that won’t quite be the case come winter. The Bluejays have a sophomore guard by the name of Ryan Nembhard who scored 11.3 PPG, dished out 4.4 ASP and played 34.8 minutes a contest while earning the title of BIG EAST Freshman of the week six times before a serious wrist injury in late February ended his freshman campaign.
Scheierman will surely be asked to run the show at times, but he’ll also have to play off the ball, giving him more catch and shoot opportunities.
This may play into Scheierman’s favor in the long run. Ultimately the Aurora, Nebraska native is a point guard. He’s a chemist in his lab when given the keys to an offense. But for now, the more roles he shows he can fit on a basketball court, the more ways NBA scouts will feel he may fit into their roster. Versatility is the name of the game these days and I believe his offensive prowess will translate just fine in the Big East.
The biggest question mark comes defensively. Does he have the lateral footspeed to match up with elite guards and wings night in and night out? We shall see come November.
A two minute highlight tape of Scheierman’s time with SDSU can be watched here .
- 8 players from South Dakota State
- 7 players from South Dakota
- 2 players from Augustana
- 1 player from Northern State
- 1 player from Sioux Falls
- 1 player from Black Hills State
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s a link to the tweet featuring the release of the article.