PORTLAND, Ore. — Ball is life for West Linn junior Jackson Shelstad.
"I love the game. It's like poetry," Shelstad said. "You can put in so much time and always have something to get better at. I can't be in the gym enough"
The 6-foot-1 point guard has spent countless hours in the gym, working on his craft.
"He's been coming to the gym minimum, four days a week, since he's been in the third or fourth grade, every morning at 6:30," said West Linn boys basketball coach Eric Viuhkola.
A lot has changed since Shelstad made the varsity squad as a 14-year-old freshman.
"I've added muscle and now I feel like I can bully guys a little bit out there, instead of getting bullied like I was freshman year. So that's a big change," he said.
Shelstad capped off his junior season as the Gatorade Player of the Year in Oregon. He's a four-star recruit and the top rated player in the state for the class of 2023.
"He's probably the most athletic player I've ever coached," Viuhkola said. "The thing that I admire about him most, he's a top-50 player in the country recruited by UCLA, Gonzaga, Oregon, and he's the most humble, nicest kid you could ever meet."
Shelstad made it known he's staying home, committing to the University of Oregon.
"I love coach Dana Altman. I love the system he has there. Just playing for my home state. The love is amazing, playing in front of my family, so they can come to all of my home games," he said. "The entire coaching staff, I have a good relationship with. I'm close with them, I've known them for a long time, actually.
"Playing for my state means a lot, putting on for the state, hopefully I can do a lot of good things at the University of Oregon and make history there. I'm really looking forward to it."
But first, he's got his sights set on leading the Lions to a state title, just like another player who wore the number 3. Former Oregon Duck and current Boston Celtics point guard Payton Pritchard took West Linn to four consecutive state championships.
Pritchard and Shelstad go way back.
"He's been there in my corner ever since I've known him," Shelstad said. "He pushes me, we get a lot of workouts in and I just can't be any more thankful to have someone like him in my corner. How hard of a worker he is, he's a great role model to me."
Just a couple of kids from West Linn. Believing and achieving. Turning hoop dreams into reality.
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