Boys HSBB: Klein Mandan’s not-so-hidden gem

National Sports

Like his production on the stat sheets, sophomore Elijah Klein’s height continues to grow.

“Three inches a year average I’m growing,” Klein said.

Apparently it’s all in the genes.

“My dad’s 6-foot-6 and his whole family is tall too,” Klein said.

But the rising Mandan star didn’t start out as a basketball player. He actually began as a hockey player, but it wasn’t long before basketball came calling.

“I just knew I was going to be big,” Klein said, “so might as well make the switch. And that’s what my dad played.”

Klein saw varsity time as a freshman last year, and even though we’re just getting into this season, his head coach sees Klein taking big steps forward.

“Offensively his game this season has really taken a step forward,” head coach Brandon Schafer said, “where he’s more aggressive and looking to score the ball.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

“He does a lot for us on both ends of the floor,” Schafer said. “We’re confident with him defending the other team’s best player, whether it’s a guard or a post.”

Klein says he’s willing to do whatever the coaches need him to do, and knowing coaches have faith in him makes him even better on the floor.

“It helps with my self-confidence mostly,” Klein said. “To know that Coach has the trust in me to do what they need me to do.”

The Braves are on pace to shatter last year’s 10-win season, but for Klein and the rest of the team, that’s just the beginning. They’ve got hopes of a state title.

“We set our goals very high for this season. So that’s what we’re expecting ourselves to do. Just to keep growing,” Klein said.

A very fitting word coming from him.

Mandan continues at St. Mary’s on Jan. 4.

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