2018 Girl’s Player of the Year reflects on her path to collegiate basketball

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)- The KELOLAND Media Group Sanford Pentagon All-Star Banquet enters its fourth season. Aberdeen Central’s Paiton Burckhard claimed the 2018 girl’s player of the year, before heading off to SDSU.

“I just remember feeling that I had the best support system and without the people that I played with and the people that coached me, whether that was high school coaches, summer coaches, my parents, I felt like without them none of this would’ve been possible. I just felt it was a true testament to all the people that helped me get there,” SDSU Sophomore Pairon Burckhard said. 

After claiming the 2018 player of the year award, Burckhard had to adjust to her new role at SDSU.

“I knew my freshman year I was just going to have to accept the role that I was given, but still work hard and play when they need me to play. I knew this past season I was going to need to step it up and do things differently for the team and I think it worked out really well and it was a lot of fun,” Burckhard said.

Burckhard says that it is important to expand your horizons when it comes to playing at the collegiate level.

“Obviously there is going to be a lot of things that you work on when you come to college, and the coaches will bring up a lot of different things you can work on, but just knowing that there is more to your game than just a certain aspect that you might be good at. Just keep working on being a good team player and a leader, because all of those things come in a full circle especially when you’re going to a new college team and everyone is just as good as you when you play on a college team,” Burckhard said.

Burckhard has a special connection with one the finalists as Lennox’s Madysen Vlastuin will be Paiton’s teammate next season at SDSU.

“I’ve known for a while like a lot of people that she’s coming to SDSU. Just being able to watch her, she’s a sweet girl from the encounters that I’ve had, such a talented player and I’m really excited to have her on our team, especially another South Dakota girl that makes it even better,” Burckhard said.

Burckhard remembers playing with or against many of the finalists and she is excited to see them succeed.

“I think it’s really cool to see all of the girls that I once played with a few years ago doing these things and a lot of them are going on to play college basketball, which is awesome! Congrats to them, it’s amazing that they are finalists and I can’t wait to see where the future takes them,” Burckhard said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual banquet will be replaced by a 30 minute show. The KELOLAND Media Group Sanford Pentagon All-Star special will run on Friday night at 6:30 on KELO-TV.

For more information on this year’s finalist, visit the South Dakota All-Star page.

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