The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

James "Sunny Jim" Schmidt



A lifelong Dell Rapids resident, Schmidt was a three-time all-North Central Conference basketball player for South Dakota State and twice led the league in scoring.

The 6-foot-2 Schmidt was known as the "underhanded shooting wizard" for his abilities in dropping in layups and drawing fouls. "In my sophomore year at State I played varsity basketball - in the Barn," recalled Schmidt. "What a place! I can remember that first game - the noise, the cowbells, being scared to death! We went out on the floor and started runnin'. The Jacks have been runnin' ever since."

He was all-NCC in 1943, '47 and '48 and he led the league in scoring in 1947 (18.8 ppg) and '48 (18.4 ppg). Jack Frost, for whom Frost Arena is named, was his coach in 1948.

World War II interrupted his SDSU career. Schmidt served in the Marine Corps. The first year he was sent to Northwestern University, where he played alongside future NFL legend Otto Graham. Playing before as many as 22,000 fans at old Chicago Stadium, Northwestern led the Big Ten almost all season, but Schmidt was transferred out with a handful of games remaining. He finished the season playing three games for Penn State. Then he was off to officer training camp.

Schmidt was an outstanding pole vaulter at SDSU as well. He placed in NCC meets and he was a Howard Wood Dakota Relays champion. In 1947, Schmidt was named South Dakota's top college athlete in a poll conducted by the Aberdeen American News.

After college, he had an exhibition season tryout with the Minneapolis Lakers, playing with NBA legend George Mikan. He also played with the Quantico Marines while in the service during the Korean War. His team was the all-Marine Corps champion in 1952.

Schmidt played independent basketball and amateur baseball for many years. He coached the Dell Rapids St. Mary boys basketball team.

As a player at St. Mary, he was on the state Catholic high school all-tournament team all four years.








































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