Sunday Spotlight: Home grown talent leads SDSU women into RARIFIED air

Pictured above top row first, left to right: Myah Selland (Sanborn Central/Woonsocket), Macy Miller (Mitchell), Tagyn Larson (Sioux Falls), Paiton Burckhard (Aberdeen Central), Sydney Palmer (Pierre) and Megan Bultsma (Mt. Vernon/Plankinton)

By Rich Winter

Wanted to throw a little love toward Aaron Johnston’s South Dakota State women’s basketball team. A remarkable run into the Sweet-16 came to a screeching halt late Thursday as the Jackrabbit women lost to No. 2 seeded Oregon, 63-53. Part of what captured the hearts and imaginations of South Dakotan’s during this run was the presence of home-grown talent, kids we know, leading the charge into the rare air of the best-of-the-best in the entire United States.

If you look up and down the roster of Johnston’s squad you will find kids from North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and six women from South Dakota. Remarkable to think kids from the upper-midwest can be in the same arena with a team like Oregon who recruits around the world.

Oregon’s roster:

2 players from Germany, 1 from Australia, 1 from Spain

1 from Arizona, 2 from Washington, 1 from California, 1 from Kentucky and 1 from Alaska.

(Not a single player from Oregon on Oregon’ s roster)

Six South Dakotan’s on South Dakota State’s roster:


South Dakotan’s on 2019 SDSU’s roster:

Macy Miller (Mitchell)

Tagyn Larson (Sioux Falls, transferred from Iowa)

Sydney Palmer (Pierre)

Paiton Burckhard (Aberdeen Central)

Myah Selland (Sanborn Central/Woonsocket)

Megan Bultsma (Mt. Vernon/Plankinton

Wanted to point special attention to Selland and Bultsma….Selland is from a tiny Class B school in South Dakota and Bultsma is from MVP, one of the smallest A schools in South Dakota.

Kinda does the heart good to see that kids from South Dakota, groomed under the SDSU program can compete at the highest level, and with anyone in the country.

Pretty remarkable to think how this SDSU program has evolved and really dominated since moving to Division 1 in 2003/2004: 9 NCAA tournament appearances in that span

Johnston has guided SDSU to 12 postseason appearances, including eight NCAA Tournaments, since the program turned Division I in 2004-05. The four-time Summit League Coach of the Year (2008, 2009, 2012, 2014) has guided the Jackrabbits to a winning record in all 18 years at South Dakota State, and has led SDSU to 15 20-win seasons, including 11 of the last 12 years.

And the Lady Jackrabbits aren’t just getting it done on the court, they are getting it done in the classroom.

ACADEMIC SUCCESS (No worse that third among Division I programs in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for seven of the past 11 seasons)

    Under Johnston's guidance, South Dakota State has graduated its student-athletes and set a standard of excellence both on the court and in the classroom. The Jackrabbits have finished no worse than third among Division I programs in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for seven of the past 11 seasons, and led all divisions of women’s basketball in team GPA four times—including three consecutive seasons (2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08)—and again during the 2010-11 campaign.

    During Johnston’s tenure, the Jackrabbits boast a league-leading eight Academic All-Summit League honorees, five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, a pair of NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners, three SDSU Team Academic Awards and a cumulative team GPA of 3.48.

Former South Dakota G, Matt Mooney helped Texas Tech stun Gonzaga and reach the FINAL-4

Wow you all….Matt Mooney was awesome yesterday for Texas Tech as the Red Raiders knocked off No. 1 seed Gonzaga 75-69 to reach the final-4 for the first time in school history.

Mooney’s line: 17 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals

Mooney talks about his journey to Air Force, South Dakota and then to Texas Tech prior to the start of this year’s season.