Everyone knows the Boden Skunberg who can post up forwards and shoot for average from 30 feet.
Here’s the Boden Skunberg Jamestown High School principal Adam Gehlhar knows:
“He recognizes that he’s got a status based on his athletic performance and he takes advantage of that to make life better for other people.”
The Gatorade Company took notice Thursday, making Skunberg the 31st student-athlete to receive the North Dakota Gatorade player of the year award in boys basketball. The honor, awarded to Jamestown’s Mason Walters in 2018-19, aims to balance athletic excellence with academic achievement and exemplary character, things Skunberg embodies.
Gehlhar estimates Skunberg has dedicated well over 100 hours this semester to in-school service-learning projects, such as helping to keep the Jamestown High School food pantry stocked and spearheading a senior recognition wall that celebrates the success and future plans of current JHS seniors.
Gehlhar said Skunberg is currently working on how to continue the projects as school has shifted out of the classroom to online.
“Boden is kind of a quiet leader. He’s calm, he’s confident and he’s got a caring demeanor,” Gehlhar said. “Besides that, what a hardworking kid. I really believe that people can develop talent and anybody can grow from where they’re at, and he puts in the time that it takes to do that.”
Skunberg maintained a 3.5 GPA while averaging over 28 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Blue Jays this season, becoming the JHS all-time leader in scoring (1,732) and rebounding (622). After helping to lead Jamestown to Class A's fourth undefeated state championship (27-0) in boys basketball as a junior last winter, as well as signing with North Dakota State men’s basketball in November, Skunberg realized a lot of eyes would be looking at him this season to lead and set the standard both on and off the court.
“It’s kinda like Spiderman: with great powers comes great responsibility,” said JHS boys basketball coach Jacoby Lloyd. “A lot of kids want to emulate his skill and his ability. If they see him doing a certain drill a certain way they try to copy it, because it’s Boden.”
There’s also no off days when it comes to setting the bar for his peers. Even after a broken finger in late February shortened his senior season, Skunberg was still a source of leadership.
Jamestown’s shot at back-to-back state championships was still alive March 13 when COVID-19 halted the Class A state tournament prior to semifinal night.
“I relied heavily on him this last year to get messages to the whole team. If Boden tells them that they’re gonna do it, then everybody’s all in,” Lloyd said. “He really recognized that he had that ability, or those qualities, that other kids kinda looked to him like he was the leader and he took off and ran with it.”
Aside from his dual-credit course work and filling orders for the food pantry, Gehlhar explained it isn’t uncommon to see Skunberg go out of his way to brighten the day of fellow students, including those with disabilities. Outside of school, the future Bison men’s basketball player has volunteered time with Jamestown Meals on Wheels, local Special Olympics adult basketball and Immanuel Lutheran Church.
“He’s great about creating an inclusive culture,” Gehlhar said. “He really befriends and gets students with disabilities and exceptionalities involved and feeling involved in social circles.”
Skunberg doesn’t take his responsibilities as a role model lightly, especially when it came to kids cheering on the Blue Jays from the bleachers.
“That means so much to me,” Skunberg said. “I was obviously a little kid and I was watching those older guys. I always try to do as much as I can with them.”
Skunberg said he’s currently planning to pursue a degree in possibly sports medicine or physical training at NDSU. A poignant topic after missing his final nine high school games to injury, pending the suspended Class A tournament.
“I’ve always just liked learning all that stuff and I always kinda wanted (a major) to be related to sports and helping people,” Skunberg said.
Skunberg came in second Friday to Devils Lake’s Grant Nelson in the voting for North Dakota’s Mr. Basketball award. The missed games arguably played a factor, but it didn’t change coach Lloyd’s opinion of his star senior.
“In my 15 years of being in the WDA, Boden’s the best basketball player that I’ve ever seen in the state of North Dakota,” Lloyd said. “From Aanen Moody, Joe Hanstad, Dalton Feeney … he just has that rare ability to be able to do literally anything he wants on the court.”
In winning Gatorade player of the year, Skunberg has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice.
Skunberg said none of it -- the awards, honors or records -- would’ve been possible without his teammates.
“The team -- 100% -- give them all the credit,” Skunberg said. “I wouldn’t be able to get the shots or do anything without them. I love those guys.”