Last fall was a whole new ballgame for Jaden Mitzel.
Typically tied to a sport 12 months out of the year, the former three-sport standout at Shiloh Christian found himself somewhere he’s rarely been – in the stands.
“I went to a couple (Shiloh) football games. It was different,” said Mitzel, a former all-state football player for the Skyhawks. “It was a pretty big transition going from playing four sports in high school to two in college. It took some getting used to, but it’s been good overall.”
Mitzel, a Mr. Basketball finalist last season for the Skyhawks, plays his first college game tonight for Bismarck State College as the Mystics kick off the shortened junior college season at United Tribes. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Fans will not be allowed to attend the game for COVID-19-related reasons.
Mitzel averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds and four assists per game last season for the Skyhawks, who advanced to the state Class B tournament before it was canceled. Mitzel, and all high school baseball players, lost the spring season as well, but he was plenty busy during the summer playing American Legion ball for the Bismarck Capitals.
He’s just as busy now.
Mitzel is also playing baseball at BSC. He practices with the Mystics on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays on top of his basketball duties. Mitzel, a left-hander, is working as a pitcher only.
“It’s busy, but I like it that way. That’s what I’ve been used to really my whole life,” he said. “The teachers at BSC are pretty flexible. They help us out in terms of due dates and things like that, so it ends up being manageable.”
The Mystics, and all Mon-Dak teams, are in for a tight fit in 2021. BSC, under new head coach Jim Jeske, will play 22 games in 47 days. Mitzel feels like the 11-man BSC roster is set up for success.
“It’s been good,” he said. “Coach Jeske and coach (Doug) Swenson have been doing a good job brining the team together. I feel like we’re a pretty strong team physically with good height. I think we’ll be able to run the court because we’re in pretty good shape.”
The Mystics will have a decidedly Shiloh-feel.
Along with the 6-foot-2 Mitzel, 6-9 sophomore Macauley Young and 5-11 freshman Trey Brunelle are on the BSC roster. Young averaged 7.5 and 7.7 rebounds per game last season in his freshman season.
“It’s been awesome. The last time we played together was the (2019) state tournament,” Mitzel said. “Trey and I played together for four years. Mooch (Young) and I played together three years. We definitely have familiarity with each other on the court.”
The Mystics have three other returning sophomores in Jamison Kramer of Marion, N.D., Cody Perkins of Mott and Turtle Lake’s Trapper Jacobs. Kramer was second in scoring last season for the Mystics at 13 points per game as they struggled to an 8-23 mark.
Other newcomers include Rhett Hanson (6-6) from Stanley, 6-5 Carrington product Seth Nelson, Garrick and Jerrick Baines of Alexandria, Louisiana and Josh Lee from Kansas City.
Even with a largely new roster, and coaching staff, Mitzel thinks the Skyhawks are ready for the season.
“We’ve been working hard and the coaches have been putting in a lot of plays,” Mitzel said. “We’re excited that we get to have a season. I think for me the biggest thing is just being able to remember all the plays. But yeah, we’re ready. Now we just have to go out and play well.”
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org