VERMILLION — For 12 months, Nicole Seekamp has been a kind of urban legend.
People, mostly including coaches and teammates, have come forward with claims of her ability, but not much tangible proof exists of what she can do on a basketball court.
Next week, however, that will all change.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard from Australia will make her long-awaited University of South Dakota debut in the starting lineup after sitting out last season as a redshirt, when she — according to witnesses — continually wreaked havoc in practice.
“It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure,” Seekamp said Tuesday during USD’s basketball media day gathering in Vermillion. “I’m definitely looking forward to next week.”
There has been a lot of anticipation for Seekamp since signed with USD in May 2011 and joined the program that fall, practicing for former head coach Ryun Williams. The things she could do and did in scrimmages were, at the same time, frustrating, for a team that eventually earned a WNIT berth.
Seekamp was relegated to the sidelines in a kind of cheerleader role during that 23-8 campaign last season.
“I feel her pain, I had to redshirt one year too (at Iowa State),” senior guard Alexis Yackley said. “I know how it is to go crazy wanting to see the court.”
A 20-year-old native of Renmark, South Australia, Seekamp captained the South Australia team in the U20 Championships in February 2011 and averaged 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists. Her career also includes stints with the U19 national team in 2010 and the U18 Australia Championships in 2009.
Suddenly, in a whole other continent, she had to sit and watch.
“It was hard, but I’ve done it before when I was in Australia, having to sit out like that,” Seekamp said. “I think it probably helped having a successful team just because we had so many girls to help out, and who knows how much I would have played.
“Luckily it flew by.”
Watching former players like Amber Hegge, Annie Roche and Jodie Boss experience year one in the Summit League naturally helped Seekamp, she said, especially when it came to learning schemes and techniques.
“She’s one of the most intelligent, if not the most intelligent, players I’ve been around,” first-year head coach Amy Williams said Tuesday. “It’s kind of crazy in practice, sometimes she’ll finish my sentences before I even finish. And we’ve never worked together before.”
With the Coyotes already struggling to overcome the losses of five players to season-ending injuries, Seekamp will be looked to for a scoring role, Williams said. In what figures to be a fast-paced tempo, her impact in that system is already making an impact.
“We play well together and feed off each other,” Yackley said. “We’re a little bit thin at the post right now, and she can step in and play there if we need her to. She’s a great passer, and she’s really fun to play with.”
Graduation losses from last season mean the Coyote women will have to replace a combined 36 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists per game. Will Seekamp be able to help patch some of those holes?
“I try not to think about it too much, because I don’t need any extra pressure,” she said. “It’s just all about getting out there and doing what we need. I won’t force anything.
“I’m a pretty ‘teamy’ player, and that’s how we’ll win games.”
With the duo of Yackley and Seekamp in the front court, not to mention Tempestt Wilson at another guard spot, the Coyotes will look to continue the success last season’s squad put together — especially that 12-6 mark in the Summit League.
“I expect people will be really surprised with Nicole; she’s a very special player,” Williams said. “She can score in a lot of different ways. People will love what she can do.”
Juevol Myles: Inexperienced Senior
For someone his age (23) and for his many college stops (3 schools), Juevol Myles isn’t your protoypical senior.
The native of Ajax, Ontario, has played in 50 games over his college career, which enters its fourth year. Put in perspective, that’s 11 fewer than USD junior center Trevor Gruis has in two full seasons with the Coyote men’s basketball program.
“He’s an experienced kid, age-wise, but inexperienced basketball-wise,” head coach Dave Boots said. “He does not have a lot of games under his belt. Physically he’s a very good player, a good three-point shooter and a good scorer. We need him to fill in that role.
“We’ll ask him to do a lot of things for us.”
A 6-foot-1 guard, Myles has not played a full season since 2009-10. He was a one-year starter at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College out of high school and transferred to Kansas State, where he played in 19 games during the 2010-11 season.
From there, Myles came to Vermillion and sat out last season as a redshirt.
“I’m looking forward to helping this team make that transition to Division I,” he said. “Even though I don’t have a lot of experience, I’ve been around a lot of guys who taught me a lot of things.”
Myles will inherit the starting point guard role vacated by Louie Krogman, and though he may lack in on-court time, Myles was confident that he will step into those leadership shoes.
“That leadership role is something I’m accustomed to,” he said. “Ask the guys in the locker room, I was one of the leaders there (in Florida and at K-State). It’s just like second nature to me.”
Myles, like anyone else on the floor at a given time for USD, will be counted on for increased production.
The Coyote men ranked sixth in the league last season in scoring at 69.2 points per game and was seventh in defense at 74.2.
“We have to defend better than a year ago, that was a bit of a problem,” Boots said. “Our biggest struggle was on the offensive end. We didn’t score enough, consistently.”
Part of that was based on consistently unbalanced scoring, with two players accounting for 50 percent of the shots and 46 percent of the points.
Rebounding was also a struggle for USD a year ago, especially on the offensive glass. The Coyotes, the league’s second-best defensive rebounding team, were last in offensive boards a game (7.8).
Other Newcomers For Men
Aside from the addition of Myles, there will be other faces new to the Coyote lineup this season, specifically at the guard position.
Junior transfer Karim Rowson and freshman guard Casey Kasperbauer are likely candidates to start by the time the season opens Nov. 14 in Wyoming, according to Boots.
Rowson is a versatile 6-foot-5 wing from Western Oklahoma State, where he led his region in scoring as a sophomore. He doesn’t figure to average the 18 points he did a year ago, especially for a Coyote team looking to get back to its balanced offensive ways.
“It’ll be way different, everybody can score on this team,” Rowson said. “There’s no guarantee that one or two guys will lead us, someone could blow up on any night. My impression is that they brought me in because I can score the basketball and help on defense.”
The same is true for Kasperbauer, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard from Carroll, Iowa. A high-percentage three-point shooter, Kasperbauer realizes the spotlight of being a freshman starter, but maintained Tuesday that he doesn’t plan to get ahead of himself.
“There’s some pressure already, not just on me, but all the freshmen, but I think it’s good pressure,” he said. “I’d rather it be pressure to play than not playing.
“Personally, I’ll just go out and play hard whenever I can, and just go with the flow.”
Tyler Flack, a 6-foot-7 freshman forward, is also likely to crack the starting lineup this season, Boots said. The veteran coach also called Flack the “best jumping big kid we’ve ever recruited.”
“He’ll make a lot of mistakes as all those freshmen do, so we’ll have to grow with them a little bit, but we’ll throw them in there,” Boots said. “We do feel like we have 10 guys who can contribute. Along with that, though, everyone has to play well and keep earning that time.”
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