Spent senior year in Arizona for basketball opportunities
WHATCOM — All roads lead back to Whatcom County.
Former Lynden Christian basketball standout Jaden DeBoer is back after spending his senior year at Valley Christian High School in Chandler, Arizona.
With the Trojans, DeBoer averaged 22.7 points per game and was named the Arizona State Player of the Year.
DeBoer, who left Washington in November because of the high school sports outlook to pursue an opportunity to play, signed to the Western Washington University men’s basketball team back in April after a dominant season for Valley Christian.
With no solid date for the return of high school sports in Washington, DeBoer said his family started having conversations about playing elsewhere in October 2020.
“It wasn’t really an option,” DeBoer said. “Once we started to learn what the playing landscape was going to be up here we thought it would be best for me and my family to go down there and get a season in.”
The DeBoer family made the move to Arizona in November, a couple of months before the high school basketball season was set to start.
Even with the move, it turned out getting a senior basketball season wasn’t a guarantee.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board voted Jan. 8, 2021, to cancel the winter sports season, a decision that was overturned four days later.
“We were halfway through the school day, it was like noon or something, and they told us that the season had been canceled,” DeBoer said. “I had to go home because I was just mentally frustrated and mad. To make a permanent move for the next six months and not have a sports season for it. It was definitely a scare.”
Once the decision was reversed, basketball was on the horizon again.
DeBoer was coming on to a team with 11 seniors and an established chemistry, but he said he couldn’t have received a better welcome.
“They were really accepting of me. They could have been mad about it like, ‘Oh, he’s taking my minutes, he’s taking my points, he’s taking my shots,’ but they were all really good about it and they were all just there to win,” DeBoer said.
He called basketball in Arizona an entirely different game than in Washington.
“I feel like the competition level was about the same, but it’s a totally different brand of basketball,” DeBoer said. “It’s a lot slower. There’s no shot clock down there, so you’ve got teams stalling for minutes at a time trying to get a lay-in. There’s probably half as many possessions.”
DeBoer found his footing and Valley Christian posted a 17-1 record in the 2021 season. The Trojans’ only loss proved to be a season-ender in the 3A state quarterfinals.
After more than half a year in another state DeBoer has returned to the Pacific Northwest with a signed letter of intent.
DeBoer said he and Western head coach Tony Dominguez hit it off in his recruiting process and he knew Whatcom County was where he wanted to be for the next four or five years.
“I’m just really excited to be able to play. I was given the opportunity and there’s a lot of people that weren’t given the opportunity due to COVID and people coming back for a fifth year,” DeBoer said. “I’m just very grateful I get the chance and the opportunity to get into a school for basketball that plays at a really high level.”
The Western Washington University men’s basketball team will begin its season in November.