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Former Kernel Kerri Young seeing solid playing time for SDSU

Notre Dame forward Natalie Achonwa, middle, and South Dakota State guards Kerri Young, left, and Clarissa Ober battle for rebound position during a college basketball game Thursday in South Bend, Ind. (AP photo)

Hard work has led the way into the rotation for the Kerri Young in her freshman year at South Dakota State University.

The former Mitchell Kernel has quickly made her presence known on the SDSU women’s basketball team this season, just one year removed from high school.

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“Her work ethic is second to none,” Mitchell girls’ basketball coach Wes Morgan said about his former star playing important minutes for the Jackrabbits.

“You can’t outwork her. She’s 6-foot, athletic and can score. She has speed, athletic ability and hard work. She’s a total package.”

The guard/forward is averaging 7.6 points in 16 games so far for SDSU, helping her team to a 9-7 record heading into Summit League play.

SDSU has played some of college basketball’s biggest names, including a matchup against then-No. 12 Penn State on Dec. 11. The Jackrabbits stunned the Nittany Lions 83-79, as Young played 11 minutes, scoring six points and coming up with two steals in the upset.

“She is playing with kids at a higher level and holding her own,” Morgan added.

The former South Dakota Miss Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year is also averaging 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. She has added 13 steals and has hit 13 of 45 attempts from behind the three-point line.

Her best game statistically came on Dec. 14 when she scored a career-high 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field in an 87-82 win over Central Michigan. Against the Chippewas, Young added three 3-pointers, four rebounds and five steals in 26 minutes.

“She’s gotten a lot stronger and really honed her skills, like getting to the basket and shooting the three,” Morgan said. “Her passing is underrated from what I have seen. Her passing is unreal.”

Young has scored in double digits six times this season, including back-to-back wins over Pepperdine and Northern Iowa when she poured in 13 points each time.

Young is averaging 20 minutes of playing time off the bench for the Jackrabbits, who are looking for a sixth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Against the second-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish Thursday, Young scored two points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field. The matchup was the first-ever meeting between the two schools and Notre Dame beat the Jackrabbits 94-51.

SDSU, which has lost three straight games, will look to get back on track with its Summit League opener against IUPUI at 7 p.m. Thursday at Frost Arena in Brookings.