The first-ever Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award was handed out today and in an unusual coincidence, the inaugural winner comes from the same hometown as the award's namesake ...
University of South Dakota senior Ciara Duffy took home the award presented by Her Hoop Stats today. This marks the latest postseason award to roll in for the senior from Rapid City. The St. Thomas More product received honorable mention All-America recognition from the Associated Press, was named the espnW Mid-Major Player of the Year and voted the Summit League Player of the Year. She is a three-time Academic All-American as well, garnering a spot on the first team for the second straight season. She graduates as the only player in program history with more than 1,700 points, 600 rebounds and 400 assists. Duffy wraps up her career third on USD's career scoring list with 1,793 points.
Duffy said, "I mean the first reaction was honestly I was just kind of speechless a little bit and I was just very grateful, very humbled and specifically obviously the Rapid City connection is so cool. I think you know she was kind of our one person growing up that everyone knew who she was, all the traveling teams would talk about getting to go watch Becky Hammon play, or to go and see her jersey at Stevens, so to have it be named after her, this person who I kind of felt like I was following in her footsteps playing college basketball and stuff is really cool. And then you know for our team it's just a real cool honor and it just does kind of speak to how special this team was and what we were able to accomplish this year on a national scale and I got to be the lucky one with my name on the award but truly it was because the team had so much success this year."
The award is named for Rapid City legend Becky Hammon, who became the first full-time female coach in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Hammon spent 16 years playing in the WNBA and was a six-time WNBA All-Star and named one of the top 15 players in league history in 2011.
And as we reported yesterday, the Rapid City Central football and volleyball teams announced the hiring of their new coaches yesterday ... with Neal Cruce coming from Tennessee to take over the football team and Jayna Morrill leading the volleyball squad ...
Cruce takes over a football team that went winless last year but was in quite a few close games under Erik Iverson. Activities director Jordan Bauer lauded Cruce's track record of resuscitating moribund programs, while former Spearfish head coach Morrill is more of a known quantity to local volleyball fans after having led the Spartans to a third-place state finish at the Class A state tournament in her time in the Northern Hills. Both coaches still have to be formally approved by the Rapid City Area School Board but that is merely a formality at this point.
Bauer said, "You know he's just done a great job of refocusing and getting teams back on track so just his genuine personality and the relationship aspect he brings to kids, that's what we enjoyed about Neal. You know Jayna is someone who's just a competitor. Regardless of the team or the skill set that we have she's someone that's always going to be there and our teams are going to compete 100 percent of the time no matter what and we're going to walk off the floor knowing we gave it our all, win or lose, we're going to leave everything out on the floor and she's just going to bring that tenacious style and being able to hold kids accountable and playing up to their potential."
Football and volleyball practice are both scheduled to begin August 13th for Class AA schools ... but if we've learned anything over the past few weeks ... it's to take a wait and see approach.
From college awards to the high school level ... the South Dakota Class B girls all-state team was released today and three area players made their way onto the team that is voted on by coaches and media from around the state ...
White River standout Caeylyn Valandra-Prue did enough through nine games of the season to make the first team after averaging 31 points and seven rebounds per game before a knee injury cut her junior campaign short. Kadoka Area senior Lavin Bendt and Faith sophomore Kaycee Groves each made the second team ... Bendt averaged nearly 23 points and 13 rebounds per game for the Kougars while Groves registered 15 points and seven rebounds per outing for the Longhorns.
We'll take a quick look at the Class B girls first team, and your B player of the year is Corsica_Stickney freshman Avery Broughton, who averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game for the undefeated Jaguars. She is joined on the first team by Howard senior Hilary Albrecht, Valandra-Prue, Langford senior Ady Dwight, Castlewood junior Alayna Benike and Ethan junior Cameryn Logan.