William Kyle III impresses in freshman year


Joclyn Haven

Willam Kyle III passes the ball to Matt Mims in the Jacks’ 69-65 loss to Oral Roberts Saturday at Frost Arena.

Masa Scheierman, Sports Reporter

William Kyle III first caught South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson’s attention while playing in a club basketball tournament two years ago.

Now, everyone in the Summit League knows who this true freshman from Bellevue, Nebraska, is thanks to a powerful debut season for the Jackrabbit basketball team.

Kyle III and the rest of the SDSU men’s basketball team will be on the court this Saturday in the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls. They await the winner of the No. 7/No. 10 matchup Friday between Kansas City and Omaha. 

Kyle III is averaging 9.5 points per game, 5.0 rebounds a game and is shooting over 50% from field goal range. He has also blocked 38 shots so far this season.

“Defensively, his rim protection is something we haven’t seen here in a long time,” Henderson said. “Offensively, his versatility and his growth, playing with his back to the basket and his ability to pass the basketball is probably what surprised me the most.”

Being new to the Division I level required Kyle III to mature faster. There is a big difference between high school and college basketball and the skill, technique and physicality that is needed for the top level is something that usually comes with time.

Luckily, Kyle III had the summer to adjust to the quickness of the college game. By working on basic development, getting stronger and gaining weight, Kyle III found it easier to hold position and dictate what he wanted to do on the court. Which, at the beginning of summer training, was difficult.

“When I would play this summer I would get punked a little bit just because the other guys were bigger and more experienced than me,” Kyle III said. “As I’ve put on a lot more weight, gotten stronger and worked on different moves to score, I definitely got a lot more confident going up against other teams.”

Kyle III has gained 18 pounds since the summer. He has then continued to maintain and add mass even with the heavy workload on his body.

Building a better physical presence has helped the business economics major compete and hold his own down low. He has also improved in other areas such as protecting his spacing and taking contact through the chest when his opponent is backing him down.

While adapting to the DI level and growing stronger was something that Kyle III had to learn, his athleticism came naturally. Whether it is his outrageous vertical that catches your attention or his quickness and tenacity shown on the court, it’s clear Kyle III’s versatility is key to his play. 

These assets have helped him set the tone on the court. They have created momentum in key moments, which helps impact the team.

“The thing that I think makes the most impact on the team right now is the dynamic plays,” Henderson said. “Whether it’s a really athletic block, which creates a lot of energy for our team, or an emphatic dunk, those are the things that have really helped us and energized our team.”

Kyle III’s skills have improved tremendously, and the support from his team and family has proven to be important. Because this is his first year on the court, he has had to rely on other teammates for guidance and advice.

Luke Appel is a senior who’s redshirting because of an injury. The 6-foot-9 forward has been a huge help in Kyle III’s growth. Appel has helped build his confidence and convinced him to trust his moves. Appel also brings up adjustments that he sees while on the bench and communicates that with Kyle III during the game.

“Luke has helped me tremendously,” Kyle III said. “At the start of the season, I would find myself nervous and uncomfortable out there. Obviously, with Luke not being able to play, he’s been a huge help mentoring me on the side and telling me what to do in certain moments.”

Not only has Appel helped Kyle III grow into the player he is now, but the support from hisbiggest fan, his dad, has impacted Kyle III in many ways.

William Kyle Jr. has always been there for his son. Starting from elementary school and now to college he can be found courtside videoing every game.

“I can count on my hands how many times I have not been at any of his events,” Kyle Jr. said. “Me being able to be at his games, to support him, video him, and for him to be able to look up in that crowd and see me means a lot to him. But it means the world to me.”

Kyle III uses the film his father records to make him a better basketball player. He critiques and analyzes every play, so the next time he steps on the court, he’s that much better than before.

He also looks forward to the videos so he can hear his dad’s excitement at the end of every clutch play. The adjustment and growth have been a learning curve for Kyle III. But he wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.

“As soon as I stepped on campus I felt all the love from the community,” Kyle III said. “Frost Arena is a great environment. All the fans are just great here, and being here has been amazing.”