2013 NCAA basketball tournament: Nate Wolters will try to lead South Dakota State to glory

USA TODAY Sports

The Jackrabbits' nickname is an eponym for their star player.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits guard Nate Wolters is, by all accounts, one of the most intriguing single players in the field of 68, mid-major or otherwise. If you haven't seen him play, it's your responsibility as a basketball fan to tune in when the Jackrabbits play in the Big Dance.

He averaged 22.7 points per game, shooting 49.3 percent and dishing 5.8 assist per game as a 6'4, 190-pound senior. He also ranked third in the country in KenPom.com's offensive rating, an advanced metric so detailed that it isn't explained in full on the website. The only two players that ranked above Wolters in that category, of all Division I players, are Michigan's Trey Burke and Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk.

Wolters is a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor. His range is limitless — and perhaps more significantly, he doesn't mind demonstrating how limitless it is — and he drives to the basket fearlessly, too. He's scored at least 18 points in 13 straight games, including a 53-point night in an 80-74 win over IUPU-Fort Wayne on Feb. 7 in which he was 9-of-14 from three-point range.

The Jackrabbits are in the tournament for the second season in a row, making the field last year as a No. 14 seed and losing in first round to eventual regional runner-up Baylor, 68-60. Wolters had 19 points and four assists in that game, but Baylor's athleticism and depth were too much for the Jackrabbits to overcome.

This year, Wolters has the experience and uncanny scoring ability — he can score in so many ways that if one or even two aren't working, he can still produce — that can be a fatal cocktail for higher-seed teams when facing an automatic qualifier in the first weekend. The Michigan Wolverines are not immune.

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