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A Titan soaring toward his dream: Jake Daniel commits to Dickinson State

Jake Daniel, the star quarterback and point guard for Trinity High, has committed to Dickinson State, a childhood dream coming true.

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After completing his final season of wearing the red and white, Jake Daniel will now don the blue and gray as a DSU Blue Hawk next season. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

Trinity athlete Jake Daniel has been a fan favorite the past few years for the Titans. Whether it was connecting with wide receivers on the gridiron, which led him to being an All-Region 4 quarterback, or being a key player on the Titans basketball team, averaging 12.1 points, four rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game his senior year, Daniel always gave his best effort while continuing to be a humble team player.

With the Titans' 20-21 basketball ending in fifth place, fans questioned where the beloved guard was going to go. Luckily, the fans finally got the answer, and it was the one they had hoped for: Daniel will don the blue and gray next year as a Dickinson State Blue Hawk.

“I’m excited. I’ve been talking to those guys for a little while, and I just kind of knew. It feels right, and I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Daniel said.

The decision to choose Dickinson State University was more personal to the 6-foot, 1-inch guard than just staying close to home in Dickinson. To him, Dickinson State was more than home, it was continuing the Daniel legacy and strengthening the bond of father and son.

Jake’s father, Tim Daniel, is a household name at Dickinson State. Along with graduating from DSU in 1986 and being a former athletic director, Tim Daniel is known for being the Blue Hawks’ former head coach in men’s and women’s golf and the head coach in men’s basketball, in which he helped lead the team to the Elite Eight of the NAIA National Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2000, followed by making it to the Sweet 16 one year later.

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Young Jake was always at Scott Gymnasium as he watched his father coach. It did not take long for him to decide where he would go to school if given the opportunity.

“Growing up, my dad was always around the school,” Daniel said. “He played basketball and coached basketball, and so just getting to grow up around the game and be part of the game and knowing that my dad did those kinds of things made me want to follow in his footsteps and do the same thing that he did.”

Daniel knew what the dream was. Now, it just came down to putting in the hard work and determination to make sure it came true. Never settling for just good or good enough. Not even settling for great. He was determined to be the best player out on the court each and every time he played. But it was not going to be in the typical way of being the best player on the court by scoring the most points.

For Daniel, the ability to score was great, but with his highly intelligent basketball IQ, his crafty movement on the court getting his teammates open, and ability to make difficult plays look smooth and calculated, Daniel proved to be one of the best point guards in his class.

It did not take long before coaches began to see the leadership and selfless character of Jake Daniel, which eventually led to Daniel being the Titans’ leading quarterback in the fall and eventually the starting point guard in the winter.

For Titans Head Coach Gregg Grinsteinner, who has coached Daniel since he was in seventh grade in track and field, Daniel’s unique style of leadership and athletic ability was a beauty to watch grow and strengthen to where it is today.

“He’s done a lot of great things for the program and to this school,” Grinsteinner said. “He was kind of one of the faces of our program this year, and when you have kids like that that can show leadership both in the classroom and out of the classroom you’re going to be successful.”

With the help of its seniors, such as Daniel, the Titans were known for bringing down the back-to-back regional champions in the Beulah Miners in the 2021 Class B Region 7 Title Championship. Daniel was later named to the All-Tournament Team at the State B Tournament in helping his team earn fifth place, only just falling short to the future state champions in Kindred in the first game of the tournament.

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With the basketball season completed, and the decision to pick a team at the collegiate level, Daniel had an important decision to make. But for him, that childhood dream reigned supreme.

“I’ve always kind of been around DSU since I was little and stuff so as soon as I got to talking to (Head Coach Derek Selvig) it was just kind of instant,” he said. “I already kind of knew and it just made everything really easy.”

Daniel discussed some of the things he is looking forward to bringing to the Blue Hawks organization, which just ended its first season with Selvig as head coach.

“They’re tough, they’re all competitors and that’s something that I think I fit into. So getting to go there I think I can help continue what they started last year,” he said.

Based on his conversations with Selvig, Daniel believes he and his new head coach will get along really well when it comes to making Dickinson State the best basketball program it can be.

“The coaches are great. Coach Selvig, he’s been talking to me and getting to work with him has been awesome. From what I can see he’s another great coach that I’m going to be able to have and his assistant coaches have been awesome. I’ve been talking to them and they’ve been so helpful to me,” he said.

Nevertheless, Daniel was not going to make this story all about him, giving high praise to all of his teammates and coaches for helping him get to his dream school.

“I would never be where I am today without those guys and those guys are so special to me, and I can’t thank them enough so being able to go out the way we did and having those guys by my side throughout all of this,” Daniel said. “Throughout this whole journey it’s been really important to me, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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Daniel also had some added words of praise for Grinsteinner helping him reach his maximum potential at the high school level and helping Trinity get to the state tournament in his final season.

“He’s one of the best. Having him around, having him coach me all since I was growing up, I mean, it’s been very vital for me to become the basketball player that I am today and he is more than a basketball coach,” he said. “He’s done more for me as a person that he has as a basketball player, which is something that not everyone does, and that’s just really special and that’s what makes him such a great man.”

On the flip side, Grinsteinner could not be more proud of his basketball guard for all the work he has done to get to this point.

“He’s brought not only an athletic ability and his work ethic but his leadership that he’s brought to this school has been really just outstanding,” he said. “And that’s part of the reason that we’ve really been successful in football and basketball this year is because we've got kids like him.”

Grinsteinner added, “He’s been living a dream right now and we expect him to continue that work ethic when he gets into college. I think Dickinson State has got a very good young man that they’ve picked up, both on and off the court … He’s going to represent Trinity well, he’s going to represent Dickinson well and hopefully he represents Dickinson State well.”

With the commitment being official, Daniel had some final words for his underclassmen teammates that may want to one day get to where they dream to be in life.

“I just hope they see that no matter where they are at, no matter what stage of the game they are at, they can do whatever they want,” he said. “Just because they might not be 20-point scorers — I know I’m not a 20-point scorer — if you do the other things and you put in the work, you could accomplish what you want to. Especially if you have guys around you like I did, and like they’re going to have, it’s going to be fun for them.”

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With the help of Jake Daniel at the guard position, the Titans dethroned the back-to-back Beulah Miners in the 2021 Class B Region 7 championship. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

Related Topics: DICKINSONTRINITY TITANS
Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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