Vermillion senior AJ Plitzuweit is our final nominee for the Sanford Pentagon/KELOLAND Media Group Player of the Year award. AJ moved to Vermillion when his mom became the head coach at USD. Two years later, Plitzuweit has left his mark on South Dakota high school basketball.
AJ Plitzuweit made a quick impression on Vermillion Head Coach Jay Drake during a workout with future Tanager teammates.
"My father, who was a long time head coach but has been kind of a volunteer coach, I remember calling him immediately after those guys got done working out and said, hey this kid coming, he's going to be pretty good," Vermillion Head Coach Jay Drake said.
Plitzuweit exceeded expectations, scoring over 1,200 points in just 43 games. He credits his success to some advice he took from his head coach.
"Showing to me that I needed to be more of an aggressive type of player. Looking for my own shot a little more than trying to look off and dish to other kids. I still try to do that, I still try to balance that a lot but tried to be more aggressive this year," Vermillion Senior AJ Plitzuweit said.
AJ's numbers during his senior season were eye-catching. He averaged over 33 points, nearly ten rebounds, and more than four assists, but Drake says the stats don't tell the entire story.
"In the 10 years that I've been here in Vermillion, he's also, he doesn't get enough credit for it, he's also probably the best defensive player we've had," Drake said.
The Augustana commit says his favorite part of the season was the team's ability to prove people wrong.
"Surpassing some expectations that a lot of people had for us. It's always fun to do when people are doubting you a little bit," Plitzuweit said.
His stint in South Dakota high school hoops was short, but Plitzuweit leaves behind an impressive resume.
"I really believe if he was a 4 year South Dakota kid, freshman through senior, he would be walking away as one of the all time greats that you would talk about in the state of South Dakota," Drake said.
We'll unveil the male and female Players of the Year at Saturday's All-Star Banquet
at the Sanford Pentagon, where North Carolina head coach Roy Williams will be the keynote speaker. The event begins at 7:00, and is free and open to the public.
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