MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Park Center played in the Section 5 championship game Friday night, but fell to Osseo, which means they won’t make it to state.

Park Center is a team without one go-to scoring leader — instead they have five players averaging double figures, and one man in the middle.

When you grow up in a basketball family and you grow up to be 6 feet 9 inches tall, Dain Dainja had to figure the game would be a big part of his life.

dain dainja Park Centers Dain Dainja Draws From Family History To Push His Game

(credit: CBS)

“I’ve kind of always been tall,” he said. “In the 7th grade, that’s when I had my growth spurt.”

But his basketball background started pretty much at birth. Dainja’s father played for the Gophers in the early 90s. His grandfather played for Northwestern.

“They teach me stuff all the time,” Dainja said.

The Park Center sophomore has drawn on that wealth of experience to enhance his own game, into the 21st century.

“I try to do what normal bigs don’t do — step out. I try to expand my game more,” he said. “And when the game counts, that’s when I try to go back. But I try to expand my game more, because I know most bigs, they only focus on one thing.”

That versatililty has helped Park Center to an excellent season, and it’s turned Dainja into a college prospect. It looks like he’ll be the third generation in his family to play Division I basketball.

“I think it’s real important,” he said. “Grandfather played at Northwestern, and then dad played at Gophers — hopefully I’ll play at a Division I college. And hopefully I make it higher than that, higher than college basketball.”

Dreams as big as his body.


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