After a strong high school career at Dakota Valley High School in North Sioux City, the 2021-22 Summit League Freshman of the Year, Paul Bruns is coming back to South Dakota.
“I looked at a lot of different schools and USD stood out to me the most,” Bruns said. “The coaches, the culture they have there, some of the players, the facilities and it’s really close to home. There’s no red flags or anything, and that’s why I wanted to go to USD.”
After finishing up his freshman year at North Dakota, Bruns decided to enter the transfer portal, where he heard from over 70 teams. Bruns said it wasn’t easy for him to decide to leave UND, but he’s excited for his new home.
“There were about 70 Division I schools that reached out to me, and it was hard leaving UND but there were a lot of good schools out there that I was looking at, and USD was the best one,” Bruns said.
Bruns is head coach Eric Peterson’s first addition as the coach of the Coyotes. Peterson had taken a look at Bruns when he entered the portal while he was still at Utah.
“I had no idea I was getting this job, so anybody that goes in the transfer portal, you’re watching,” Peterson said. “You’re trying to get a feel for (any player), and just having connections to South Dakota prior, living in Vermillion for four years, I looked him up and watched him. This was probably four or five days before this job even opened.”
With Bruns’ ability to score and the league recognition, Peterson was interested right away.
“I watched (Bruns) and I was like, ‘man, he’s a good player,’” Peterson said. “He can score at all three levels, he’s tough.”
The one thing Peterson wants to work with Bruns on is his defense. Peterson wants USD to be known for their defense and Bruns’ toughness can help with that. Bruns said he will do whatever it takes to win at USD.
“Toughness is a thing that I can bring to the court no matter what,” Bruns said. “Also, my abilities on offense and being a team player, doing whatever the team needs me to do to win. That’s all I really want to do, win games at USD, and I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Bruns spoke highly of Peterson, the two met a few times before Bruns’ commitment and he looks forward to playing under Peterson in Vermillion.
“I met with (Peterson) a couple of times before committing to USD and I really trusted him and really liked what he had to say. I really can’t wait to play for him,” Bruns said.
For Bruns, it is a move closer to home, but for Peterson, it also shows the importance of recruiting locally.
“Recruiting local kids is really important to us,” Peterson said. “If they can play at our level, we’re going to recruit them and we’re going to be all in on those kids. What a great first commitment, 30 minutes down the road, in South Dakota, our fans should be excited about that.”
Bruns is looking forward to playing in front of a lot of familiar faces next year, and he hopes to help bring success to Vermillion in the near future.
“This team has a really good chance of making a good run next year,” Bruns said. “And I want to be a part of that. I’m excited to be in Vermillion, which is right next to my hometown. That’s going to be great. I know a lot of people that go to Vermillion, I know some of the guys on the team already, so I’m really excited about the whole thing.”