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All-around Husky: Bridgewater-Emery's Schultz named Republic's boys basketball player of the year

Bridgewater-Emery's Sawyer Schultz is The Daily Republic's boys basketball player of the year. (Matt Gade / Republic)

EMERY—Sawyer Schultz is living in the moment.

The dynamic Bridgewater-Emery junior guard is in the midst of a outstanding career, which already includes a state championship and 1,295 career points.

He's got colleges knocking on his door and a looming senior season, which the Huskies will be among the favorites to win the state title again.

But Schultz isn't worried about any of that right now.

"I like to live in the moment on the court," Schultz said. "Last year is over with and this year, it was fun to live in the moment again because you got to see what it's really like with a whole different bunch of guys."

That mentality has served Schultz well, especially during his junior campaign. The high-flying and uber-athletic scoring guard powered the Huskies to a third-place finish at state. The 6-foot-3 Schultz led the Huskies in scoring (23.5), assists (4.8), steals (2.6) and was second in rebounding (7.6). He also hit a team-high 76 3-pointers.

For his brilliant junior season, Schultz has been selected as The Daily Republic's boys basketball player of the year for the second straight season. Schultz received all three first-place votes and 15 points in the voting, which is conducted by the newspaper's sports staff.

A number of other area standouts also received consideration for the award, including Bon Homme's Bryce Scieszinski, Bridgewater-Emery's Jamin Arend, Bridgewater-Emery's Carter Dye, Canistota's Connor Carlson, Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's Noah Dickson and Corsica-Stickney's Cordel Menning.

Schultz is the first repeat selection since Mitchell native and NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller won the award in 1997 and 1998.

Junior leader

Last season, Schultz and the Huskies went from unranked to undefeated state champs with a 26-0 record. Schultz was named to the Class B all-state first-team as a sophomore.

This season, he took things up a notch and his individual numbers all took a jump. But being more vocal on the court for the Huskies is what he strived for the most.

"For me personally, I think my biggest step was more of a leader this year," Schultz said. "I was more of a leader and a guy the younger guys and my teammates want to look up to."

That was nothing his coach and father — Scott Schultz — had to push onto his son. He just went ahead and did it.

"We never really talked about that," Scott said. "All the guys that were back from last year were really pretty good as far as leaders on the floor and knew what we were doing. We never really had a talk about it. It was just something he understood that he needed to do."

Sawyer's production on the court also took a noticeable jump. He started the season by erupting for 37 points, 13 rebounds, eight 3-pointers, four assists and three steals in Bridgewater-Emery's 79-56 home-opening win over Canistota.

He capped off the junior season by recording 38 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the Huskies' 87-79 double overtime win over White River for third place at state.

This season, he had five games with 30 or more points and 11 games with 20-plus points. But he's more than just scoring. He's a wizard with the basketball and has the uncanny ability to find open teammates, while also being a pest on the defensive end with his length and athleticism.

The springy Schultz also uses his 35-inch vertical to make an impact on the boards and above the rim. He said he threw down close to 10 dunks this season, while also being second on the team in rebounding to Carter Dye (8.4 rpg).

"He concentrated more on it," Scott said about the boards. "I think you saw that in the state tournament, where he got some offensive rebounds and some putbacks at critical times. He's made a conscientious effort of that this year to kind of get in and help the rebounding on both ends — on offense and defense."

Sawyer credits the spike in boards to getting in the weight room and was willing to crash the boards among the bigs.

"This summer, I kind of got myself in the weight room and felt more comfortable with myself on the floor," Sawyer said. "I knew my team needed me to get some rebounds so I did my best to get as many rebounds as I could."

The future

Sawyer isn't sure if he will compete in track and field this spring. Instead, he plans on coming up with a workout regime to improve his game.

This spring and summer, Sawyer is playing with South Dakota Attack — an AAU traveling team. They will attend tournaments around the region, while also going to events in Minneapolis, Wichita, Kansas and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sawyer has received interest from schools ranging from NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I, while more will likely follow during his last AAU season.

"I would imagine he will think about it a little bit more as the spring and summer ball goes along and try to narrow down some thoughts on what he wants to do as a career and kind of go from there," Scott said. "But there's been quite a few people that have watched him and talked to him. We are fortunate and blessed to be able to have those coaches watch him and have some interest in him."

Sawyer said his college decision will be based upon what's best for him and his family. He intends on majoring in business law. But that's for the future and Sawyer is focusing on today.

"I don't really look at that because I am not to that point where I need to decide," he said. "I am just kind of letting everything flow and let whatever happens, happens, and like I said, living in the moment with my teammates and my family."

Here's a look at the rest of the award nominees with vote totals in parentheses:

Bryce Scieszinski (10): Scieszinski was the top vote-getter in the Little Missouri Valley all-conference voting. He averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers, who lost to Dakota Valley in the Round of 16. Scieszinski was also a 53 percent shooter.

Jamin Arend (6): Arend recorded 14 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game for Bridgewater-Emery. He was second on the team in assists and steals. Arend knocked down 54 3-pointers.

Carter Dye (5): Dye averaged 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Huskies. He was an all-tournament selection at the state tourney. He averaged 18.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game at state.

Connor Carlson (4): Carlson posted 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds for the Hawks, who placed sixth at state. He shot 59 percent from the field. Carlson was an all-tournament team selection. Carlson led the state tournament in rebounding with 13.3 boards per game and scored 18.3 points per game.

Noah Dickson (4): Dickson averaged a double-double for the upstart Blackhawks, who qualified for the Class B Round of 16 out of Region 4B. Dickson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, posted 17.2 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per contest in 20 games.

Cordel Menning (1): Menning recorded 15.3 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Jaguars, who lost in the Class B Round of 16 against Lower Brule. He shot 52 percent from the field.

Past winners

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

2012: Jade Miller, Mitchell

2013: Jesse Taylor, Kimball/White Lake

2014: Coby Johnson, Platte-Geddes

2015: Taylor Nichols, Hanson

2016: Seth Friesz, Chamberlain

2017: Sawyer Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery

2018: Sawyer Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery