The Summit League Basketball Media Day kicked off with the South Dakota State men’s basketball program receiving several accolades as part of the conference’s preseason honors and poll released on Tuesday.
The Jackrabbits were chosen by the league’s nine head coaches, sports information directors and select media members as the favorite to win the upcoming 2023-24 regular season title. Along with sitting atop the Preseason Poll, the Jacks had a combined three individuals selected to the preseason all-league teams, including the Preseason Player of the Year in junior Zeke Mayo.
South Dakota State earned 27 of a possible 36 first-place votes to total 600 points in the Preseason Poll. The Jacks finished second a season ago in the regular season standings and fell in The Summit League Tournament semifinals to North Dakota State last March.
Oral Roberts, the reigning Summit League champions, was picked to take runner-up in the standings with 510 points and seven first-place votes. The Golden Eagles are coming off an undefeated run through the conference as they went 18-0 in the regular season and won all three games in the conference tournament. Oral Roberts lost two First Team All-Summit League performers in Max Abmas and Connor Vanover. The Golden Eagles return Preseason All-Summit League First Team selection – and 2022-23 Second Team All-Summit League honoree – Issac McBride, along with 2023-24 Preseason All-Summit League Second Team choice Kareem Thompson.
NDSU sits third in the standings with two first-place votes and 482 points. The Bison took third a season ago in the regular standings, but won two of three over the Jacks during the 2022-23 campaign which included the victory in Sioux Falls to propel NDSU to the championship game. NDSU returns an Honorable Mention All-Summit League performer in Boden Skunberg who was picked to the 2023-24 Preseason All-Summit League First Team. The Bison also bring back Andrew Morgan who is on the Preseason All-Summit League Second Team.
Rounding out The Summit League Preseason poll in order were St. Thomas (386), North Dakota (374), South Dakota (274), Omaha (252), Kansas City (201) and Denver (161).
Mayo, the lone returning First Team All-Summit League selection a season ago, was picked as the 2023-24 Preseason Summit League Player of the Year. Mayo was chosen as a Preseason All-Summit League First Team recipient for the second consecutive season.
SDSU’s last Preseason Player of the Year choice came in 2020 when Douglas Wilson was recognized a season after his 2019-20 Summit League Preseason Player of the Year campaign.
The junior guard led SDSU in per game in averages in points (18.2), rebounds (6.2) and assists (3.4) a season ago. Mayo improved his numbers in Summit League play with averages of 21.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 18 games. He finished the year with top 10 single season program marks all-time which included the fourth-best free throw percentage (90.4%), sixth best mark in minutes per game (35.7), seventh most 3-pointers (83), eighth highest defensive rebounds per game (5.9) clip and ninth most field goal attempts (465).
Mayo was also ranked in The Field of 68’s ‘The Almanac’ as the sixth best Mid-Major Player for 2023-24.
Luke Appel joins Mayo on the Preseason All-Summit League First Team for the second straight year. Appel returns to the Jackrabbit lineup following a 2022-23 season that was ended after five games due to multiple injuries. The redshirt senior had a standout 2021-22 slate as he earned The Summit League Sixth Man of the Year award in SDSU’s undefeated run through the conference. Appel played over 17 minutes per game and during the conference schedule averaged 11.1 points and was 62% from the field. He had 13 double-digit scoring performances over the course of the season.
William Kyle III, a member of The Summit League 2023 All-Newcomer Team, was picked to the Preseason All-Summit League Second Team. The sophomore forward averaged 8.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game last year. He improved on his averages across 18 Summit League contests with 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Kyle III had 13 double-digit scoring performances while making 25 starts for the Jacks. He set a career high of 20 points on 8 of 12 from the field in a Jan. 30 win over Kansas City. He also registered his first double-double of his career in a Feb. 18 victory at Omaha with 11 points and career-high 11 rebounds.
South Dakota State makes its 2023-24 Frost Arena debut on Nov. 1 with an exhibition against the University of Mary. The Jackrabbits officially begin the season on Monday, Nov. 6, by hosting Akron.
Aberdeen Central’s Becky Guffin joins us to talk about everything going on at Central and beyond this month…