Mitchell junior Tucker Volesky wins Daily Republic player of the yearGary Munsen has not had a player score like Tucker Volesky did this season since Mike Miller was in a Mitchell uniform.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
Gary Munsen has not had a player score like Tucker Volesky did this season since Mike Miller was in a Mitchell uniform.
Miller went on to star at the University of Florida and now plays in the NBA for the Miami Heat.
Volesky is a 17-year-old junior swingman with another year of prep basketball in front of him.
Volesky scored a Class AA-best 456 points this season — good for an 18.2 per game average — and helped the Kernels to a 21-4 record and a second-place finish at the Class AA state tournament.
“For his size, you don’t find a kid in ‘AA’ basketball that can score that many points,” Munsen said of the 6-foot-4-inch Volesky. “The defenses are outstanding and teams distribute the ball so much.”
And now, let the accolades begin for Volesky.
For leading Class AA in scoring and helping Mitchell to an Eastern South Dakota Conference title and a runner-up finish at the state tournament, Volesky has been named The Daily Republic’s boys’ basketball player of the year.
Volesky received 14 points in a system that awards five points for a first-place vote, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. He will receive a plaque inscribed with his name for winning the annual award, which is voted on by the newspaper’s three sports staff members.
Corsica/Stickney’s Kris Menning finished second in the voting with 12 points and Winner’s Zach Horstman was third with 10 points.
Volesky joins Mike Miller (1997, 1998) and Jordan Miller (2008) as the only Mitchell players to earn the award, which honored its first recipient in 1995.
It was quite a junior season for a player who found his way on the court sparingly as a role player just a season ago.
“When I was a sophomore, I mainly was just a spot-up shooter,” Volesky said. “But this summer, I really developed my game, taking it to the hole more and creating my own shot.
“My goal for my game is that I don’t want to be one-dimensional. I like to come off picks and go up for a jump shot. I like to go up for a shot off the dribble. I like to try and do a little bit of everything on the court.”
Volesky did hit a team-high 19 3-pointers as a sophomore and averaged 6.7 points per game. But he shined in the Kernels’ offense this season.
Volesky, the son of two former Division I athletes, led Mitchell in scoring in 18 of its 25 games. He scored more than 20 points on 11 occasions and had a season-high 29 points in two games — both against Aberdeen.
“He’s the best player on one of the best teams in the state,” Aberdeen coach Brent Norberg said of Volesky. “We had no answer for him.”
In the month of January, Volesky averaged 23.3 points per game in six contests — all wins for the Kernels.
The hot streak at the start of 2011 included a 25-point performance — 15 of which came in the fourth quarter — over Huron, the school Volesky attended through eighth grade.
“The month of January, I was really hot,” said Volesky, whose father, Ron, played basketball at Harvard and mother, Tara, golfed at Brigham Young.
“That Huron game was a big highlight of the year,” he said. “We started really slow in the third quarter; I started getting frustrated and got a technical foul, which was a major mistake.
“I felt responsible for us being behind in the fourth quarter, so I just had to get us going.”
Volesky did slow down toward the end of the season, though. He scored less than 10 points just four times this season, but all four occasions came in the final seven games for the Kernels. He was, however, named to the all-tournament team at state after averaging about 11 points in the three games at Sioux Falls Arena.
“His percentages were outstanding all season; he didn’t take a lot of bad shots,” Munsen said of Volesky, who shot almost 50 percent from the floor and about 42 percent from 3-point range on the season.
“His 3-point percentage went down at the end of the year, but that’s to be expected when you play as many games as we did,” the veteran coach said.
With a season left with the Kernels, Volesky said the ultimate goal for his senior year is to win a state title. He also credited volunteer strength trainer Phil Collins for his physical maturation over the past year.
“(Collins) had a tremendous part of our successful season,” Volesky said. “He was with us throughout the whole fall in the weight room to get us bigger and stronger; that’s what helped us win a lot of close games this year.”
Volesky, who sports a 3.9 GPA in the classroom and is an admitted political buff, said he has started to think about playing collegiately since the season ended. He has not committed to play anywhere and said his list of possible schools is not yet narrowed down.
“If I go play basketball in college, that’s great,” Volesky said. “But if I just go to college for school, that’s great, too.”
Here is a capsule look at the other players who received votes:
n Kris Menning, a 6-foot-3-inch senior forward for Corsica/Stickney, helped the Jaguars win the Class B state championship in its second season as a cooperative.
He finished the season averaging 18 points and eight rebounds per game. He will play for coach Shane Murphy and the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball team next season. Menning received 12 points in the voting.
n Winner senior Zach Horstman, a 6-foot-6-inch South Dakota State University recruit, led Winner to a seventh-place finish at the Class A state tournament.
The senior averaged about 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals per game and scored his 2,000th career point in the final game of the state tournament. Horstman garnered 10 points in the voting.
n Wagner 6-foot-3-inch senior forward Brett Kuca scored 18.6 points and recorded 10 rebounds per game for the Red Raiders this season.
Kuca received four points in the voting.
n Tripp-Delmont/Armour’s Adam Fink, a 5-foot-11-inch junior point guard, averaged 15.1 points, 7.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game this season. He scored his 1,000th career point, shot 54 percent (109-for-204) from the floor and 48 percent (44-for-92) from 3-point range.
Fink received three points in the voting.
n Nick Young, a 6-foot-4-inch senior forward, led Mitchell with better than eight rebounds per game. He also was second on the team behind Volesky at 11 points per contest.
Young, who was designated as the Kernels’ primary post defender throughout the season, has not decided if he will play a sport in college next fall. Young received two points in the voting.
1995-Chris Janssen, Emery
1996-Cody Vollmer, Lyman
1997-Mike Miller, Mitchell
1998-Mike Miller, Mitchell
1999-Doug Hall, Scotland
2000-Jared Reiner, Tripp-Delmont
2001- Matt Jones, Alpena-Wessington Springs
2002-Ben DeWaard, Stickney
2003-Nathan Graves, Mitchell Christian
2004-Mike Steffen, Mount Vernon
2005-Preston Broughton, Corsica
2006-Danny Fathke, Avon
2007-Matt Malloy, Parkston
2008-Jordan Miller, Mitchell
2009-David Maxwell, Parkston
2010-Jesse Tolsma, Mitchell Christian
2011-Tucker Volesky, Mitchell