Junior forward Mike Daum is a well-known figure at South Dakota State. He will likely go down as the best player in SDSU history and is one of the top college basketball players in the country.
I sat down with Daum and discussed what life was like before he became a star at SDSU, how he’s dealt with publicity and what he wants to be remembered for.
I want to start with Kimball, Nebraska. What was it like growing up there, in such a small town? What did you do in your free time?
Honestly what I did in my free time was go to the gym or I was out on the farm helping my dad out. It was such a small town that there wasn’t much for me to do. So, for me to go out and get shots up with my Mom and my dad, and spend time with family, was the main thing.
How many kids did you graduate with?
There were 20 kids. So it was super small.
When you came here with more than 10,000 other people, was that tough at all or did you enjoy it?
I enjoyed it for sure. It was definitely a change of pace going from knowing everyone that I went to school with to coming here where you meet someone new every day. But it was a fun change of pace for me.
Growing up, was there a time where you realized you were better than everyone else at basketball? Or was there some competition?
I would say it was my freshman year when I started to do AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] and pull away from everyone in basketball and I was like “dang, I could be really good at this if I put time and effort into it.” And that’s what my mom told me.
Coming into college, did you think it would get to this point, where you are the one of the top players in the country?
No, it was never in the thought process that it would get to this level. I redshirted right away and mentally I was like “Shoot. I kind of wanted to play.” But at the same time I knew my body needed to adjust to the physicality of the game. So to redshirt and come in and get my body right and mind right was big for me.
Was there an exact moment where you realized everyone on campus knew who you were and were getting recognized nationally because of what you were doing on the court?
I can’t think of an exact moment. It’s kind of just day to day. I feel like I do whatever it takes to help this team win and I try to be the best guy off the court too.
When you go out on campus or just around town. How often do you get stopped?
Quite often. There’s always a family or someone that wants to say ‘what’s up’ and I’m cool with that. I love being able to go around campus and around the community and say ‘what’s up’ to people. It’s kind of fun.
Do you ever get annoyed at all with any of the publicity?
No I really don’t. This community has supported me, so the least I can do is say hi and give back. It’s all fun for me.
Do you feel like some people might treat you differently or suck up to you because of your social status?
I don’t know. I mean I don’t want people to treat me any differently. I try to be as personable as I can when I’m out and about. I feel like I don’t try to come off or portray that I’m just this basketball player. I want to be there as person for people too and I feel like I do a decent job of that.
Who is your favorite guy that you have played with so far at SDSU?
Man that’s tough. You’re putting me on the spot. I would have to say Reed (Tellinghuisen). It seems like we came in right away and connected and bonded. He’s hilarious on and off the court. He’s such a fierce competitor on the court. It’s hard not to love to play with him.
With one year left, what do you want your legacy to be at SDSU both on and off the court?
I want to be known as just an all around solid guy to anyone that came across me off the court and a personable guy who’s very community oriented and team oriented. On the court, to my guys, I want to try to be the best possible teammate I can be. All of the stats, they don’t really mean much to me as long as I help this team get better everyday. That I’ve built relationships with these guys and this community. That’s what I want them to remember me for.