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Former Blue Jay Boden Skunberg finds his role at NDSU

The former Blue Jays is steadily getting more and more playing time as a member of the NDSU Bison

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North Dakota State's Boden Skunberg takes a shot over Indiana State's Xavier Bledson in the Bison's 77-70 win on Dec. 13. Zachary Lucy/NDSU Athletics

After a decorated basketball career at Jamestown High School, Boden Skunberg decided to make the trip east to North Dakota State University. During his time as a Blue Jay, Skunberg was named the North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year for his senior season.

He finished at the high school as the all-time leading scorer with 1,732 points and the all-time leading rebounder with 622. He averaged 28.4 points per game, 11.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in his final season as a Blue Jay.

This season, Skunberg has appeared in 11 games, averaging 3.7 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game with eight total assists.

During his final year as a Blue Jay, Skunberg decided between playing for the Bison or the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. He also, according to 247Sports.com, had interest from the University of Iowa and South Dakota State University.

NDSU head coach David Richman and his staff were paying attention to Skunberg early in his high school career.

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“I think he’s been on the radar for a long time, probably back to his sophomore year in high school,” Richman said. “Us being a state school, North Dakota State, and him being in the state obviously at Jamestown, you start to hear things and then we followed it up. We probably really picked it up in between his sophomore and junior year.”

The level of competition from North Dakota Class A high school basketball to the NCAA Division I level is a big one, Skunberg said.

“Coming from high school to college is a big jump in how good the players are and the type of game I have to play in order to play my roles in the system,” Skunberg said.

One of the biggest upgrades that Skunberg and his teammates get compared to the high school level is the travel amenities.

“It’s a big difference because it’s going from driving an hour in a bus to flying anywhere across the country,” Skunberg said.

Skunberg admitted that he has had to adjust to fitting into a new role as a Bison.

“I’m not the same player I was, I’m trying to play my role,” Skunberg said. “I went from being that guy at Jamestown to having a specific role in college and playing my role to do the best we can to win games.”

In the Bison’s 86-76 win over UND on Dec. 22, Skunberg dropped a career-high 14 points. Skunberg's increase in his quality of play has seen him slowly get more playing time from Richman.

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“That means everything to me,” Skunberg said. “It's something you work for. I’ve gotten a lot of help from teammates and coaches for helping to give me confidence. … My teammates give me a lot of confidence each game. They tell me to just play my game and thanks to them, I have a lot of confidence and my confidence is definitely building over the last couple games.”

The amount of playing time that Skunberg has gotten from Richman and his staff is due to his ability to earn the trust of the coaching staff.

“The whole thing is trust and building trust amongst himself and our staff,” Richman said. “In our program it starts with how you are going to defend, how you are going to rebound and take care of the ball. Boden has really started to figure those things out and along with that, his shot selection he’s got a better and better understanding every day and every game of what a good shot is and what a bad shot is within our program. When you start to do that you gain the time on the floor and our hope is that it only continues to build from here.”

Over his time as a Bison, Skunberg has been able to travel to some of the biggest and most notable arenas college basketball has to offer, including Allen Fieldhouse, the home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks, and the Thomas and Mack Center, home of the University of Las Vegas Rebels.

“I would have to say Vegas is probably my best because we had a little bit more time off to go out and hang out as a team,” Skunberg said.

Richman said that one of the keys for the Bison to make it back to the big dance and winning the Summit League with Skunberg will be his health.

“If he maintains his health and he keeps growing and having the understanding, I really do believe the sky is the limit for his role within our program,” he said. “He wants to be here, he understands what it’s about to be here. He’s excited about his role, he’s building confidence, our staff is building confidence in him and again where we are today is hopefully just the start of where we are going tomorrow.”

Hello,
My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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