SIOUX FALLS | Daniel Jansen’s basketball ambitions were high following his 2012 MOC-Floyd Valley High School graduation, where as a senior, he won first-team Class 3A all-state honors, averaging 17.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 blocked shots.
To make Augustana’s starting lineup.
As a freshman.
Jansen had learned shooting and footwork drills as a sixth-grader by B.J. Mulder, who founded BEST (Basketball Effective Shot Training) Shooting School in 1994. Jansen had also been fundamentally well-schooled by veteran MOC-Floyd Valley Coach Loren DeJong.
“I knew there would be tough upperclassmen and I knew I had to out-compete them,” said Jansen, a 6-9, 240-pound senior forward who last Saturday became the university’s all-time leading scorer (1,972 points), tallying 25 points in a 94-86 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory at No. 11 MSU Moorhead.
“My focus was to put myself in position to work my tail off and to start as a freshman. My drive proves I could do this if I worked my tail off.”
Jansen passed 2013 graduate Cameron McCaffery’s former mark (1,962). Friday night, when fifth-ranked Augustana (20-2, 17-1 NSIC) plays at Southwest Minnesota State, Jansen will top 2012 graduate Cody Schilling’s career record 117 starts.
“It’s a blessing and an honor to do something like this,” said Jansen. “I’m thankful for teammates, my coaches and a lot of people who got me to this point. I’m thankful to God to be able to play for four years, not miss a game and to be very healthy.”
Augustana Coach Tom Billeter feels Jansen, a 52.3 shooter with averages of 19.9 points and 8.1 rebounds, benefits from the play of 6-2 sophomore guard Jordan Spencer (9.0 ppg, 202 assists) and 6-6 junior guard Adam Beyer (9.3 ppg, 99 assists).
Spencer and Beyer, two returning starters from last year’s record-setting 31-3 team that reached the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament, are also among the reasons Augustana paces the NSIC in both scoring (92.2 ppg) and assists (19.77 per game).
“Jordan leads the country in assists,” said Billeter. “He’s good at putting Daniel in good situations. We’re a good passing team. It makes a difference. (Jansen) has a big body and good hands to throw to in there. Even if the pass isn’t perfect, he’ll catch it. We have confidence throwing it to him.”
Jansen didn’t disappoint in his first start, supplying 13 points and six rebounds in the 2012-13 opener, a 54-46 win over Jamestown. From there, like Schilling, Jansen never departed from the starting lineup.
Jansen went on to win NSIC freshman of the year honors. He’s well on his way to winning a third straight first-team NSIC honor, adding to a special season that began when he hit a jumper as time expired, scoring 19 points in a 76-74 exhibition win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Iowa.
“Words can’t describe how great that felt,” said Jansen, the Vikings’ lone Iowan. “Everyone who contributed did something special. I was isolated on the wing against (Adam) Woodbury with six seconds left. The play was for me to get a shot off. But it didn’t go as planned. I was dribbling, but I got caught up and turned and shot.”
Two weeks later, 6-6 senior forward Casey Schiling (19.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 53 assists) threw an assist to Jansen, whose NBA-range three-pointer with .5 seconds left gave the Vikings a 79-77 win over No. 14 Northwest Missouri State. Jansen had come off a screen about five feet behind the arc to drill the game-winner over the opponent which last year, ended the Vikings’ season, 66-65 in the NCAA Tournament.
Cody Schilling’s younger brother ended Jansen’s three-week stronghold as the NSIC South Division player of the week with his second straight double-double, 26 points and 13 rebounds against MSU Moorhead. The night before, when the then-No. 1 Vikings lost 90-81 at Northern State, Casey Schilling had a monster performance with 26 points (5 of 11 three-point baskets) and 25 rebounds.
“(Schilling) is my best friend off the court,” said Jansen, who was held to eight points in the loss. “It doesn’t matter who scores or who the best player is. Our games complement each other. If he’s posting up, I’ll feed him and if I’m posting up, he’ll feed me. Both of us have worked together to get the team to where it needs to be.”
Billeter just wants Jansen to keep filling the stat sheet, just like last season. Jansen feels the fire of both last year's season-ending defeat and last Friday's loss will continue to make the team better.
“It hurt, but it created a fire and a passion that gets us to where we need to be,” said Jansen, whose younger brother Levi Jansen (17.4 ppg at No. 6 MOC-Valley) will follow his older brother’s footsteps, playing for Augustana.
“I hope we learned what happened so we can keep the fire burning and go at the next level.”
Billeter first scouted Jansen when he was an MOC-Floyd Valley junior. Over the past four years, he has seen Jansen improve in every aspect, especially defense.
“Daniel’s not afraid to work, that’s for sure,” said Billeter. “The basics were there, the fundamentals were there and so was the desire to want to win. He came in well-coached and willing to be coached.”