Conference Preview

Posted On: 10/20/17 10:23 AM

As a freshmen Park Center 6-foot-8 center Dain Dainja scored nine a game playing along with a pair of future D1 players (senior Jarius Cook is committed to North Dakota State and Losini Kamara is now at Idaho).  Dainja is now ready for a bigger role with the Pirates.

Park Center will enter the 2017-18 season ranked fourth in Class AAAA when the Breakdown Minnesota high school preview books arrive in the hands of fans later this month. Dainja returns as a starter along with Cook, Khari Broadway, and others who started some like Emmanuel Tamba and DJ Purnell. Expectations are high.

“I think we could go very far as a team if we can just stick together and guide each other,” Dain said.  “If we do that we think we can be Class AAAA champions.”

The Pirates certainly are a contender.  Cook, Purnell, and Lavante Parker are the lone seniors so the Pirates are senior loaded like Apple Valley and Cretin-Derham Hall, but the Pirates are right there with Hopkins having a balanced amount of talent age wise that could definitely go on a run and threaten for gold.

“My focus before the winter season is to be in the best shape I can possibly be in and just work more on my ball handling,” Dainja said.

“I’m also getting in as many mid-lane and outside jumpshots as possible. I also need to be a team leader and make sure my grades at right before the season begins.”

As far as this coming season goes Dainja has the following goals:

“To be a good leader, to go undefeated, and to win a state championship!”

This past spring and summer Dain played up on the D1 Minnesota 17u team giving them a low post option.  It was a fantastic experience for Dain who helped the D1 Minnesota team improve every game.

“I think I improved a lot by playing with Race Thompson (now at Indiana) and Matthew Hurt (a five star forward),” Dainja explained.

“Playing with D1 Minnesota was a good decision. I know I can make better decisions and take good shots.  I also feel like I’ve learned to play much better defense after playing those four months at 17u.”

Dainja has earned D1 offers from Hampton, Denver, and Montana so far.  He was rated as a top 150-160 area player in the recent national 2020 rankings by Prep Hoops and several high major programs are in contact.

“I’m hearing from Baylor, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and I got an invite to a big man camp at Baylor in August.  I’m going to visit Iowa State in November.”

Who is Dain’s basketball influence?  That was an easy choice, his father Dana Jackson.

“I have to say my hoops influence is my dad,” Dain said.  “He played with the Gophers and he played overseas in Argentina.”