It’s basketball season. As South Dakota high school hoops enters its first full week, some of the top players in the state are back representing their schools once again.
Here are a few boys players the Argus Leader is keeping an eye on early (and you should, too).
Matt Eng, G, O’Gorman
The Knights lost a few players who put up some points — David Alpers, Manny Struck, Rush Landry and John Costello each could put the ball in the hoop, but their absence won’t necessarily force Eng to change anything about the way he plays. Maybe he’ll have the ball more, but a healthy Radley Mauney should give him an opportunity to move off the ball and put up a lot of shots on the perimeter, which are two things he does as well as anyone in the state. Expect his 15.3 points per game last year to rise.
JT Rock, F, Lincoln
Rock is as intriguing a talent South Dakota high school basketball has had since former Yankton star and South Dakota State forward Matthew Mors. He averaged 12 points per game as a sophomore last year, but it feels like he could erupt this year. At 7-foot-1, he possesses shooting ability and good ball skills that allows him to play on the perimeter. No one will have an easy time shooting around the rim against Lincoln, for sure. If Rock takes an offensive jump, the Patriots could be scary.
Kaden Year, F, Jefferson
Year might have been one of the state’s most underrated players last year, averaging 15.1 points per game as a junior. He has 6-foot-5 size but his playing style looks no different than a lot of guards around the state. He’s great in transition, can shoot and plays above the rim, too. Jefferson, as with football, should be really good this year. Beau Giblin, Griffin Wilde and USF commit Taylen Ashley are not just among the best athletes in the state, but they also possess incredible ball skills and love to run. Year’s going to be flying up and down the floor all season and defenses are going to have to pick their poison with this group.
Joe Sayler, G, White River
Put simply, Sayler gets buckets. He averaged an incredible 29.8 points per game on 49.4% shooting. Class B was really good last year, and he was easily one of the class’ best players in his junior year. Already one of the state’s most exciting high-flyers, Sayler will be an absolute terror for defenses going up against White River. With De Smet losing quite a few dynamic starters, White River has an opportunity in Class B. The biggest reason for that is Sayler may establish himself as the best player in the state this year.
Damon Wilkinson, C, De Smet
There’s not many players in the state, let alone Class B, who would be able to take a player like Wilkinson completely out of the game. At 6-foot-10 with a strong frame, Wilkinson averaged 15 points per game, nine rebounds and three blocks as more of a third- or fourth-scoring option last year. He could be more of a focal point this year, and the Bulldogs will see what he can do when featured in the offense. He had his moments of that last year, and it always went well for De Smet. This season should be a big one for the senior.
Lincoln Kienholz, G, Pierre
Kienholz was the best football player in the state this past season. Could he be the best basketball player in the state, too? It’s possible. Kienholz averaged 20.3 points per game last year and has more athleticism than perhaps anyone at the guard position in South Dakota. Pierre has a lot of returners this year and could be a bit of a dark horse in Class AA if they improve. It’s hard to bet against a team featuring Kienholz.
Daniel Mitchell, F, Gregory
Gregory is young, but one of its more experienced varsity players is junior Daniel Mitchell, who averaged 19.8 points per game last season. And the Gorillas can’t ask for their experience to come from someone any better. Mitchell, at 6-foot-8, has a perimeter game that resembles Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant. He can break defenders down off the dribble and drain a pull-up jumper from anywhere on the floor. He’ll be extremely dangerous and someone you can’t miss whenever he’s on the floor.
Isaac Bruns, G, Dakota Valley
Bruns is another senior that emerged as one of the best players in the state in his junior year. He averaged 23.9 points per game as the Panthers went undefeated on their way to a Class A state championship. He averaged 8.7 rebounds at the guard position and plays strong defense, too, making him one of the more well-rounded players in South Dakota. He doesn’t necessarily even need to take a leap for Dakota Valley to be strong again, also returning a star at the point guard spot in Randy Rosenquist. But the South Dakota commit is due for another big year.
Oliver Vincent, G, Sioux Valley
Vincent has more scoring punch than even his 17.5 points per game as a junior suggested. He averaged 21 points per game playing off the ball as a sophomore, then moved to the point guard spot and averaged 6.8 assists, too. In his senior year, we could see both of those skill sets merge even more. Vincent certainly is credited as one of the state’s best players, but he’s likely even better than any hype he’s received thus far. He’s a magician with the ball in his hands, and with a rising star in center Alec Squires manning the post, he could put up huge numbers this year.
Porter Ihnen, G, Lennox
One of the best juniors in South Dakota high school basketball makes Lennox an interesting team in Class A. It’s no surprise that Ihnen has received offers from both South Dakota and South Dakota State. He averaged 19.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game last year as a left-handed scoring guard who has the size at 6-foot-5 to play down low and battle for rebounds.
Follow Sioux Falls Argus Leader reporter Michael McCleary on Twitter @mikejmccleary.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota high school boys basketball players to know in 2022-23