Continuing his basketball career at Bismarck was a slam dunk for Jayden Yankton.
The Mr. Basketball runner-up to undefeated Class B state champion Four Winds-Minnewaukan spent a lot of time in the capital growing up. When offered the opportunity to play college ball at United Tribes, he jumped at the chance.
“Bismarck has been like a second home to me. I always came here for tournaments. I have family here and I have relatives who played at Tribes and BSC,” Yankton said. “When they offered me a scholarship, I was really excited. I was like, ‘yes, I’m in.'”
The Thunderbirds get one of the most accomplished prep players in the state.
The 6-1 guard averaged 27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists per game as he led Four Winds-Minnewaukan to a 27-0 record and the State B title. He shot 50% of his shooting, 78% from the free throw line, while registering 57 shots from three points.
People also read…
Yankton was the only returning starter for the Indians at the start of last season, but it couldn’t have gone better.
“It’s been a remarkable season, full of memories and joy,” he said. “For your senior season to go the way it did, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Despite his success in high school, he is fully aware that he will have to improve to reach the university ranks.
“It’s a different level of basketball, of course,” he said. “For me personally, there are a lot of things I need to work on. I need to get stronger, more athletic, have faster feet. I need to improve physically, but I’m confident I will.”
Yankton joins a United Tribes program that finished just two wins away from the NJCAA Division II National Tournament last season.
Head Coach Pete Conway’s Thunderbirds are 17-12 and, on paper, are firing nearly every player from last season’s roster, including All-American Famous Lefthand guard and all-rounder DK Middleton.
“They have a lot of great players,” Yankton said. “It won’t be easy to earn minutes, but playing against other great players only makes you better. For me, I’m looking forward to this level of competition.”
Conway had been working on Yankton for a few years and finally got his services.
“Pete has been talking to me for at least two years,” Yankton said. “When he gave me the opportunity, I jumped on it.”
Yankton will be one of two former Four Winds players to play college ball at Bismarck next season. Jacolby Pearson signed with Bismarck State College.
For Yankton, he hopes to take his game to another level at United Tribes.
“High school was great, but I have to put those days behind me,” he said. “I’m going to a great place for me where I’m going to be really comfortable. I feel like better days are yet to come, that’s for sure.”