A true Titan: MVP's Reed Rus is the Mitchell Republic’s 2023 boys basketball player of the year

For nearly averaging a triple-double while serving as a leader on and off the court, Rus was chosen as the 2023 Mitchell Republic boys basketball player of the year.

Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reed Rus, the Mitchell Republic's boys basketball player of the year, is pictured on Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Mount Vernon.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MOUNT VERNON, S.D. — It’s hard to know which is greater, Mount Vernon’s appreciation for Reed Rus or Rus’ love for his hometown.

Walking the Mount Vernon School hallways, Rus figures he can call almost every student, all the way down to grade school, by name.

Of course, all the youngsters know Reed Rus, too.

The senior three-sport standout inspiring the next generation of Mount Vernon/Plankinton Titans is the 2023 Mitchell Republic boys basketball player of the year.

“It's just kind of a small-town community thing that I've always been a part of. I really like that we're walking down the hallway, the first graders are walking by and I can call them by name and give them a high-five,” Rus said. “Hopefully, it brightens their day, it brightens my day, and it’s just a special feeling.”


On the basketball court, Rus recently completed a five-year varsity career that saw the 6-foot-4 guard set practically every record in the history of the MVP co-op, as well as Mount Vernon High School history. He saved arguably his best season for last, averaging 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game this season, helping MVP return to the Class A state basketball tournament for the first time since 2017 in the process.

The player of the year award is selected by the newspaper's sports staff via a point-based voting system that awards five points to the top player, four points to the second player on the ballot and so on. Rus received two of three first-place votes for 14 total points, becoming the first honoree from Mount Vernon since Mike Steffen in 2004.

Other players receiving consideration were Mitchell’s Dylan Soulek (who received the remaining first-place vote), Winner’s Blake Volmer, Mitchell’s Steele Morgan, Ethan’s Riley Endres and Bridgewater-Emery’s Sutton Arend.

Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reed Rus, the Mitchell Republic's boys basketball player of the year, is pictured on Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Mount Vernon.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

All-around standout

According to Mount Vernon principal, activities director and boys basketball coach Eric Denning, there’s no better example of what it means to be a well-rounded student-athlete than Rus.

In addition to being an elite athlete in three sports — Rus is a two-time all-state selection in both football and basketball, as well as one of the best hurdlers and high jumpers in Class A track and field — he finds many ways to remain involved as a student, too. Rus is a member of the National Honor Society and has been a student council member throughout high school. This year, he’s the Mount Vernon student body president.

Reflective of his contributions both in competition and outside of it, Rus garnered the top honor a South Dakota basketball player can receive, the Spirit of Su, at the 2023 Class A boys basketball state tournament.

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“Knowing that the guys I was watching as a waterboy and guys that I looked up to and wanted to be like as a kid, to be listed with them, it’s a very special feeling,” Reed Rus said.
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Rus, already the MVP all-time leader in rebounds, assists and steals, added the all-time scoring mark to his resume on Tuesday night

“That was kind of the icing on the cake. I've always dreamed about that, because I didn't even know if I'd ever get the opportunity to make the state tournament or be at that level,” Rus said. “... I was trying to keep my cool, but I've never felt like that. It was super fun. It’s just now kind of starting to hit me how cool it actually is to get that award and how honored I am.”


“It's just a lot about the human being that he is. He's just authentic in everything that he does,” Denning added. “He competes fearlessly and he leads by example. It's important because basketball is a game, and you can win or lose a game. But with those character traits Reed has, it’s going to transcend and allow him to be successful in life.”

Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reed Rus, the Mitchell Republic's boys basketball player of the year, is pictured on Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Mount Vernon.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Filling it up

Make no mistake, Reed Rus is a fierce competitor in whatever sport or activity he happens to be competing in.

Denning still recalls when a much younger Rus, then a student manager for the varsity boys basketball team, regularly wanted to play pickup games of one-on-one with the older players before practice.

It’s an illustration of an uncommon level of competitive spirit and drive that has never left Rus, and remains a major factor in his successes in the present.

“He's a kid that has a vision for what he wants, and he's unafraid to try to achieve that vision,” Denning explained. “I always preach that, in order to be a leader, you have to be unselfish and you have to be the hardest worker, and Reed epitomizes that.

“He's unwavering in what he does, so he's never asked his teammates to do something that he's not willing to do himself,” Denning continued. “I think they respect that, because when they know that he's willing to sacrifice to achieve, they're willing to do it as well. He’s just a person that makes everyone around him better in all facets of life.”

In Rus’ own words, he’s the type of competitor whose sole focus is winning, regardless of what his role looks like to accomplish that goal.


“If I end up with two points, two rebounds, two assists and we win, I’m going to have just as much fun in the locker room afterward as I did with a triple-double,” Rus said through a wide grin.

But during Rus’ time donning MVP’s blue, black and silver, there was rarely a night where he wasn’t stuffing the box score.

Not far off from averaging a triple-double this season, Rus almost always had his hands in what the Titans were doing on either end of the court. For the season, Rus recorded eight triple-doubles — including a string of five in six games between Feb. 14 and March 7, which further included two Region 5A playoff games and the Class A SoDak 16 — and six additional double-doubles in 26 games. Twice this season, Rus came within three steals (or fewer) from recording a quadruple-double, a feat rarely seen at any level of basketball.

Rus wasn’t looking to pad his stats. He was doing what he felt he need to do to make sure MVP won on any given night.

“If I'm out there, I'm going to try to get every rebound,” Rus said. “If a teammate is open, I'm gonna throw it to them, and hopefully they're going to score. And if I have my opportunity, I'm going to score.”

Along the way, Rus said he always looked up to former Mount Vernon greats such as Chad Greenway, Rus’ uncle, and Mike Steffen, who held many of the records Rus had to chase on the hardwood, and just hoped he’d be able to have his named mentioned with theirs someday. In the end, Rus finished his career as MVP's career leader in points (1,655), rebounds (855), assists (452) and steals (226).

Mission accomplished.

“There's a lot of area schools around here that take pride in that we don't have enough kids to just pump out athletes out and tell them to just play one sport,” Rus said. “We’re all trying to get in every sport and trying to do the best you can for a community.”


Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reed Rus, the Mitchell Republic's boys basketball player of the year, is pictured on Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Mount Vernon.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Embracing a new challenge

Though Reed Rus admits he still has a hard time deciding which sport is his favorite between basketball and football, he’s already made up his mind about which he’ll be pursuing in college.

Back in December, Rus announced his commitment to play linebacker at the University of South Dakota football program as a preferred walk-on. Rus had also weighed his collegiate options when it came to basketball and, to a lesser extent, track and field, but football afforded him the opportunity to play at the highest level — Division I — which heavily influenced his choice.

Division I goal has been long-held by Rus, who starred for the Titans on both sides of the ball
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Mount Vernon/Plankinton is 7-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class 11B ahead of a regular-season finale at home against No. 1 Winner. Rus is a big reason why, accounting for nearly 1,200 yards of offense and 21 touchdowns as the Titans' quarterback this season.

Once he joins the Coyotes program, Rus won’t immediately be looked to as a go-to player for practically the first time in practically his whole life. While that aspect of his next chapter differs from those that have come before it, he’s nonetheless excited for the opportunity to prove his abilities at the collegiate level.

“It'll be different. Freshman year, I'm not going to go out there and start. That’s not how it’s going to work,” Rus said. “I’m not the guy everyone is looking at, but I’m going to put in extra time and work and go through that grind to get as big and fast as possible and see where it goes from there. I’m really excited for that journey.”

Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reed Rus, the Mitchell Republics boys basketball player of the year, is pictured on Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Mount Vernon.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Others receiving consideration

Here’s a look at the other players who received consideration, with their vote-point totals in parentheses:

Dylan Soulek, Mitchell (13): Soulek, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, was the Kernels’ leading scorer during the season, posting 13.2 points per game prior to the state tournament, plus 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. The future Northern State baseball player was a Class AA second-team all-state selection and all-tournament pick for the state runner-up Kernels.


Blake Volmer, Winner (8): A 6-foot-3 senior guard, Volmer finished with 19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and four assists per game and shooting 51% to lead the Warriors, which reached the Class A SoDak 16 and finished with a 21-2 record. The Class A second-team all-state honoree scored in double-figures in all 23 games and he’s signed to play at Black Hills State next season.

Steele Morgan, Mitchell (5): Morgan, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, averaged 11.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, shooting 52% from the field and 37.7% on 3-pointers, garnering second-team all-state honors in Class AA. Morgan, who is set to play basketball at Dakota Wesleyan, averaged 12.6 points and seven rebounds per game in the state tournament, where he was an all-tournament selection.

Riley Endres, Ethan (3): Endres was a do-it-all player, helping Ethan reach the Class B state tournament. The 6-foot senior guard averaged 14 points per game in a 20-6 season, earning a third-team all-state pick in Class B. Endres had a pair of double-doubles in the state tournament and finished averaging 14.3 points and 10 rebounds across the three games in Aberdeen.

Sutton Arend, Bridgewater-Emery (2): Arend was one of the area’s top scorers, posting 22.2 points per game, along with 8.3 rebounds per contest for the Huskies, shooting 54% from the field. For his efforts, the 6-foot-4 senior guard was a Class B first-team all-state selection.

Past award winners: 1995: Chris Janssen, Emery; 1996: Cody Volmer, 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; 2019: Sawyer Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery; 2020: Reggie Slaba, Hanson; 2021: Zane Alm, Mitchell; 2022: Caden Hinker, Mitchell; 2023: Reed Rus, Mount Vernon/Plankinton.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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