Simply put, he’s one of the best college basketball players in the entire country.
I’m talking about Kimball native Mike Daum, who once again this season has helped lead the South Dakota State Jackrabbits to the NCAA Tournament.
The Jackrabbits picked up a 12 seed on Sunday night and they’ll open up against 5th seeded Ohio State on Thursday afternoon at noon MT in Boise, Idaho.
I caught up with Mike on Monday afternoon and we talked hoops; here it is.
Daum has been a program and really, to a certain degree, a conference game changer. All three seasons he’s been on the court for SDSU, they’ve won the Summit League Conference Tournament.
The driving force behind those three straight Summit tourney titles? easy. The big fella. Daum is the first player in league history to win back to back to back conference tournament MVP awards.
In the Jackrabbits three day run that included wins over Western Illinois, North Dakota State, and South Dakota, Daum averaged a ridiculous 26 points and 14 rebounds.
For the season the per game numbers look like this: 23.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and he’s the shooting numbers are outstanding; 46% from the field, 86% from the free throw line, and 42% from the three point line.
In Mike’s redshirt freshman season SDSU was knocked off by Maryland in their tourney opener, 79-74, as Daum finished with 16 points.
Last year the Jackrabbits got a #16 seed and had to open with national power and #1 seed, Gonzaga. After being down by just four points at halftime, South Dakota State watched the Zags pull away for a 20 point win. Daum scored 17 points. Gonzaga focused so much of their defensive attention on him that I opined it had to have been the only time in tournament history that a #1 seed had to specifically game plan for a single player on a #16 seed.
In fact, after the game here’s what Gonzaga Head Coach, Mark Few had to say (audio courtesy of ABC).
Earlier this season SDSU had then #6 Wichita State on the ropes on the road before falling by ten, 95-85. Daum stroked 7-12 from downtown en rout to scoring 31 points and Shockers Head Coach, Greg Marshall, compared him to Larry Bird.
Safe to say he’s able to handle the bright lights and the big stage of the NCAA Tournament.
He’ll easily become a two-time Summit League Player of the Year this season and he’s recently been nominated for the Karl Malone Award, which goes annually to the top men’s collegiate power forward.
If you’d like to vote for Daum for the Karl Malone Award click here.
What does the future hold for Daum? Well, he’s set to graduate on time which will open up a whole new realm of possibilities for his collegiate playing career next season.
Those talks and discussions are for another time because right now about all he has left to accomplish at South Dakota State is helping the team get a win in the NCAA Tournament.
That next opportunity is two days away as Daum gets set to take center stage against Ohio State.