Burckhard to be inducted into amateur basketball hall

Kevin Burckhard didn't play basketball for the accolades.

And he certainly didn't keep playing basketball for the awards.

But the honors came anyway.

The latest of those is a seat in the South Dakota Amateur Basketball Association's Hall of Fame. Burckhard will be inducted Sunday during the annual amateur basketball tournament in Huron.

A native of Lakota, N.D. and a graduate of Northern State, Burckhard said the honor was an unexpected surprise.

"All the accolades and awards are fun and good," Burckhard said. "But that's not what I'm excited about."

Burckhard knows about his share of awards. He was an all-state player in high school, an all-conference player at Lake Region College, and an all-conference and All-American at Northern State, where he spent the last two years of his collegiate career.

He currently holds Northern's single-season record for rebounds and is sixth on the single-season scoring list.

Following his time at Northern, he moved on to play at the semi-professional level in Brazil for a year before returning to Aberdeen and playing amateur ball, continuing his love of the game.

"It's a lot of years of playing basketball," Burckhard said. "I was pretty passionate about it. But there's so much more — and I try to instill this in my kids — there's so much more to come from it. I tell them, 'If you're successful, that's just icing on the cake.'"

Burckhard said when he thinks back on his time in the game, whether at the high school, collegiate or post-collegiate level, the memories that come to mind aren't even game-related.

This, from a guy who helped Northern reach the national championship game two seasons in a row.

"It's never really a game," he said. "It's the bus trips. the friendships, the relationships. I'm probably more excited about the camaraderie between the guys and being social. The game is the game, and when I'm in the game, I like to win. Even now, I sub on a city-league team, I want to win. That's a big piece of it. But it's more about being a part of the team."

Burckhard, whose oldest daughter is Paiton Burckhard, a senior for Aberdeen Central and a South Dakota State signee, said he tries to pass those things on to all three of his kids.

He also points out qualities like leadership, competitiveness, effort and giving back — all things he learned from playing the game he loves.

"Basketball only takes you so far," he said. "Is there more to life? Yeah, there is, but there's a lot of lessons you can learn from it."

by Jacque Niles, Aberdeen American News

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