SD Scrappy Defenders
In this article:
This is PHD’s second take on tough defenders from South Dakota. Click HERE to check out the Salty Defenders in South Dakota article. With the regular season nearing its end, we wanted to make sure we did an article highlighting…
This is PHD’s second take on tough defenders from South Dakota. Click HERE to check out the Salty Defenders in South Dakota article. With the regular season nearing its end, we wanted to make sure we did an article highlighting the hard-working defenders
So what makes a tough/salty/scrappy defender? Great anticipation, quick feet, extra hustle, lateral movement, understanding angles, altering/blocking/contesting shots, ubiquitous NRG, killer closeouts, helping the helper, bumping cutters, communication, grit, persistence, taking charges, committing smart fouls, physicality, and many more. With that being said….let’s check out these defenders!
Beau Breece (2024) |5’11 G| Baltic
He has the best feet of any of the players on the Baltic team. He grew up playing soccer and his defensive abilities are due to this. Breece does a great job of frustrating ballhandlers. His length for his height can be misleading for teams. Beau creates a lot of offense with the pressure he applies to ball handlers.
(2026) |6’0 G| Baltic
He plays with an extremely high level of energy. Ben is just a freshman but has the length to be able to play on the ball or off the ball defensively. Erickson plays with a super high motor and he gets ball handlers to turn multiple times, which in the Bulldog defense is a focus in the open court. For only being a freshman, Erickson is a very good defender and player to keep track of.
Braydon Simon (2023) |6’0 G| Deuel
He is a constant defender for the Cardinals. Simon usually has the job of putting pressure on the opposing team’s PG. Braydon does an excellent job in 1-on-1 situations and he controls the pace of the best ball handler. Simon moves his feet well, plays hard, gives great effort, and he changes the game on the defensive side of the ball.
(2025) |6’0 G| Gregory
He typically defends the opponent’s best player if he is not a post player. Cruz is smart and sees things before they happen. He anticipates his positioning ahead of time and he gets into position to make a play on the ball or stop the offense. Klundt is also mentally tough and encourages the challenge. Cruz is definitely a playmaker.
Daniel Mitchell (2024) |6’7 F| Gregory
He defends the rim well. At 6’7″, Mitchell is long and extra-athletic. His length and ability to get up quickly make it difficult for players trying to get to the rim. He can swat/block/alter shots like few can in SD. He is a standout athlete and game-changer on both ends of the floor.
(2025) |5’11 PG| Hamlin
The Chargers use Easton to guard the other team’s primary ball handler. Hamlin has Neuendorf pressure the ball up the floor and he makes the ballhandlers uncomfortable. Easton’s defensive pressure makes it hard for teams to get the offense started through their main ball handler. Easton has 62 steals on the year.
Eli Barger (2024) |6’1 G/F| Madison
He is a very tough defender who prides himself in rebounding and taking charges. Eli is always thinking defense first and not allowing people to penetrate. Undersized at only 6’1”, he is constantly on the floor for loose balls, battling for every rebound and playing with a physical and tough mindset. Barger has made the transition from JV to being a varsity starter this season and he is taking pride in his role of rebounding and defense first.
(2025) |6’3 SF| Hamlin
The Chargers use Evan to defend the other team’s best perimeter player that is not their main ball handler. Evan is able to guard positions 2-4. He is strong enough to guard in the post and is quick enough to guard on the perimeter. He is a very physical and stingy defender. Evan missed the first 10 games of the season and is now back ready to roar! Stormo’s return has really solidified the Chargers defensively.
(2023) |6’0 G| De Smet
He has really stepped up for De Smet this year. Gannon has played a great defensive game in the regular season. He is also a very heads-up basketball player. Gannon knows how to keep his guy from getting to the rim and knows how far he can help in the team concept. Gruenhagen really adjusts well as the game goes, he is smart about adapting to what his opponent is doing. Gruenhagen is a heady basketball player!
(2024) |6’5 F| De Smet
He has been getting called on a lot more to get up and guard some of the better three-point shooters. Jensen uses his length and he jumps so fast that he can alter many shots. Even if someone dribbles by him on a penetration, they have to be aware that he is coming behind them, he might block the ball right off the backboard! His length makes shooters think about what they are doing, it is not easy to shoot over that 6’5″ length and his quick jumping ability. George has also been great at defending on the perimeter, he excels at keeping the ball in front.
(2023) |5’10 G| Leola-Frederick Area
He has been the top defender for the Titans throughout the year. His quickness makes him a tough matchup for guards and he is strong enough to front the post when he needs to guard a bigger opponent. Lapka’s conditioning allows the Titans to not sub him out for fatigue, as it does take more out of you physically guarding the top opponent. His communication in practice and games is essentially like having another coach on the floor for the Titans.
Jake Goblirsch (2023) |6’2 F| Beresford
The Watchdogs joke around that he has Dennis Rodman-like tendencies. Not just the hair but for being undersized in the post, he makes up for it with his hustle and athletic ability. Jake does a great job protecting the rim, he takes charges, and he is a communicator. The Watchdogs have even seen Goblirsch take out multiple fans this year by diving out of bounds and saving deflected passes. The Watchdogs feed off his constant energy.
(2023) |6’1 G| Tea Area
He is the best team defender that coach Weber has had in his years at Tea. That is quite the compliment! Kocer has a high basketball IQ and he always knows where to be on the floor. Jonah averages over 2 steals per game and finds 4-5 more deflections a night. Kocer is smart, sneaky, clever, and a student of the game.
(2023) |6’3 G/F| Red Cloud
He is one of the top defenders for the Crusaders. At 6’3″ he can guard any position on the floor. Ecoffey plays the “5” for Red Cloud but is more of a 3-man. He does a nice job of defending posts (because they need him to) but he also can switch onto a PG and move his feet to stay in front. Jules does good work fronting the post and makes it hard to throw it inside. His versatility as a defender is a great asset to the Crusaders.
(2024) |6’1 G| Canton
He has been a spark plug for the C-Hawks. Oftentimes, Moore can give Anderson a break without having to take him off the floor because Julius can take care of top guards from the opposing teams. His athleticism is impressive and this allows him to stay with ballhandlers. He flies around on defense and can create disruptions in the press and zone. He creates TO’s to instant offense on the other end. Moore is an emerging player for the C-Hawks.
(2024) |6’0 G| De Smet
He has quick feet and he can really keep the ball in front of him. Fast has a great vertical that changes shots off the drive and at the 3pt line. He can guard the PG and even a taller shooting forward. Kadyn has been drawing the toughest assignments for De Smet this year. Kadyn is a very smart defender and anticipates what the offense is going to do. When De Smet puts him on a lesser threat, this allows Fast to help and create some steals on his own. Kadyn can really pick up the energy in a game.
(2025) |6’5 F| (2023) |6’3 SG| Aberdeen Christian
They are both physical and can guard 1-4. Their length and quickness make them tough to beat off the dribble as shoot over. Both of these guys like the challenge on defense and they have a mindset of shutting down the other team’s best player.
(2026) |6’2 G/F| Beresford
He comes in the game often off the bench and instantly gets several steals or blocks. James can be a real spark plug for the Watchdogs. Malachi comes in and will guard the other team’s best player while giving other guys breaks to recharge. James feeds off getting stops. He is a key player for Beresford and a lockdown defender in the making.
(2024) |5’11 G| Baltic
He does a great job of understanding his assignments. The Bulldogs like to play Mark on the opponent’s biggest perimeter threat and he understands how to take away a player’s strengths by thinking ahead of the game. Mark understands how to help, how to beat his man to get him off of his spots, and when to attack a double team or trap. Diter has an extremely high basketball IQ and when Baltic matches him up, they know he is going to give them an opportunity to win.
(2024) |6’7 F| Canton
He is one of the premier defenders in South Dakota. He can matchup 1-4 and do it all in and out. Anderson is fast, quick, explosive, and long. This allows him to stay with and in front of anyone. He gets the job done in man, zone, and the press. He anticipates well and can create TO’s. Matt takes charges and protects the rim. He would be a standout defender on any team in SD.
(2023) |6’4 C| Tea Area
The Bulldog is a great post-defender and rebounder. You will have a hard time finding a tougher/stronger/more physical player than Reis. He averages over 3 blocks+steals per game and 10 rebounds. Reis has ability to bang with bigger posts or guard smaller forwards on the perimeter.
Sam Conrad (2023) |5’8 G| Brookings
He is not only the Bobcat point guard but also a leader on defense. Conrad never gets tired and is relentless on the defensive end. He is extremely quick which allows him, though undersized (5’8″), to be a tough defender. Sam is competitive and he enjoys the challenge of guarding some of the better guards in the state.
Sam Schleuter (2023) |6’0 G| Garretson
He is without question the top defender for the Blue Dragons. Sam, with his length and basketball IQ, plays on the top of Garretson’s 2-3 defense. His anticipation of where a pass will be makes it difficult for opposing teams to swing it around the top of the key. He has gotten numerous deflections and tipped passes with his quick hands alone, which has caused countless turnovers in the past 3 seasons. Schleuter is very quick to react and he sees the court very well, which has led to easy transition offense for the Blue Dragons.
(2025) |6’5” F| Mobridge-Pollock
He has been the top defender for the Tigers this season. The sophomore has racked up some huge stats this season. (145 rebounds, 28 blocks, 19 steals, 32 deflections, 10.7 PPG). Shane is a big presence in the lane. Other teams are continually needing to shoot well from the outside to beat the Tigers because he does such a good job of protecting the paint.
(2023) |6’5 SG| Beresford
He guards the other team’s best player, no matter their position. At 6’5″, Tate can guard the post, and his athleticism allows him to guard wing players. He also allows the Watchdogs to be flexible in how they defend as a team night in and night out. He is long, athletic, and tough. Vanotterloo is a dawg on D!