Dain Dainja, a 6-foot-9 junior from Brooklyn Park (MN) Park Center, is considered one of the top prospects in Minnesota in the Class of 2020.
Dainja averaged 12.9 points per game as a sophomore as the Pirates finished 24-5, losing to Osseo 61-57 in the Section 5AAAA finals. He scored in double figures 14 times and had four games of 20 or more points, including a career-best 26 points versus Totino-Grace.
Dainja comes from a basketball family. His father, Dana Jackson, played at Minnesota from 1990-93 after transferring from San Diego State after his freshman season. His grandfather, Don, played at Northwestern.
Gopher Hole recently caught up with Dainja to learn the latest on the upcoming season and his recruitment.
Gopher Hole: What is the latest on your recruitment? How many offers are you up to?
Dain Dainja: Right now, I have 23 offers.
Gopher Hole: Is it hard to keep track of that anymore? Obviously, they continue to go up and up.
Dain Dainja: No. It is not hard to keep track. I pay attention to all the colleges that have offered me. This year, before our games, I am going to take a couple of visits to some colleges.
Gopher Hole: Where are you planning on going?
Dain Dainja: The next five will be West Virginia, Marquette, Louisville, Gonzaga and Georgetown.
Gopher Hole: Have you had a chance to go anywhere this fall to go to any college football games yet?
Dain Dainja: Oh, yes. I’ve gone to Minnesota for a football game against Iowa, the homecoming game.
Gopher Hole: What was that experience like?
Dain Dainja: It was pretty good. I got to go down there and watch the practice at ten and after that, we went down and saw the football players warm up and stuff on the field. It was a good experience.
Gopher Hole: What do you gain those experiences, going to colleges that you have already gone to or are going to? What do you get from that that is going to help you make your college decision?
Dain Dainja: I just pay attention a lot when I am down visiting colleges. See what their nutrition is like. See their schedule. See how hard the coaches push you in practice. That is mainly what I look at how good the teammates and the coaches. That is the main thing that I look for.
Gopher Hole: You are going into your junior year, do you like the recruiting process or are you starting to see how it could start to be overwhelming at times?
Dain Dainja: It is starting to get kind of wild now, but I am handling it pretty well, though.
Gopher Hole: Have you talked to any former teammates or AAU teammates about recruiting?
Dain Dainja: Yes, I have.
Gopher Hole: Who have you talked to?
Dain Dainja: I talked with my teammate J Wigg and I talked with Race Thompson. I talked with Matt (Matthew Hurt) a little bit and I talked with other guys out of town to see what I should look for when I make my final decision.
Gopher Hole: Do you think that helps because you can obviously talk to your friends that aren’t basketball players, but they don’t know exactly what you are going through? Is it kind of nice to talk to those guys who have either been through it or are going through it at the same time that you are?
Dain Dainja: Yes, it is nice. They bring up good points, stuff that I don’t even know. You just have to pay attention.
Gopher Hole: James Ware is your high school coach. How does that help since he has not only been a high school coach, but he is also been a college coach and a former player? Have you talked to him a lot about the recruiting process?
Dain Dainja: Yes. I talk to him a lot. He keeps bring up the part where I’ll make a decision. He wants to go play somewhere I can play like I do in AAU and that I’ll be able to play the same way when I get to college. He brings up a lot of good points, also.
Gopher Hole: Is that kind of nice having a coach that has gone through some of that as opposed to an average coach who has had a player or two, but not to the level of James?
Dain Dainja: Yes. It is way better.