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Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Jaden Schutt lifted Yorkville Christian to championship heights

It sounds like hyperbole to suggest that Jaden Schutt built Yorkville Christian basketball, but there’s a little truth behind it.

He actually did do some building.

Schutt got his hands dirty with different jobs as the school was constructing its current facility and gymnasium. He stuffed installation into ceilings in between classes. He painted walls and beams. Schutt actually helped lay the boards for the basketball court.

“I guess you could say he started with the floor,” Yorkville Christian coach Aaron Sovern said, “and will end up in the rafters.”

Schutt indeed lifted Yorkville Christian to unprecedented heights.

As a freshman, he teamed up with his older brother, Colton, to lead the school to its first sectional title. Schutt tied an IHSA single-game record as a sophomore with 17 3-pointers. He rose to become one of the state’s best players, and last September fulfilled a childhood dream by picking Duke from among 20 scholarship offers.

And, last weekend, Schutt led Yorkville Christian, a school less than a decade old, to its first state basketball title.

Yorkville Christian vs. Liberty, Class 1A state championship game

Schutt, the Record Newspapers Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, averaged 24.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals this season and made 114 3-pointers at a 39% clip. He finished his career with 2,322 points and 334 3-pointers, and surely would have reached 3,000 career points with a full junior season.

“It’s a huge accomplishment. I’m very proud that I was able to get a state championship. This school deserves something like that,” Schutt said. “It’s definitely meaningful and very cool. To see the growth of Yorkville Christian, it’s wild. I was literally helping to build the school.”

Yorkville Christian’s Elijah Fisher (21) and Jaden Schutt (2) hold up the championship trophy after their 54-41 win over Liberty in the Class 1A championship game at State Farm Center in Champaign. Friday, Mar. 11, 2022, in Champaign.

Yorkville Christian’s Elijah Fisher (21) and Jaden Schutt (2) hold up the championship trophy after their 54-41 win over Liberty in the Class 1A championship game at State Farm Center in Champaign. Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022, in Champaign. (Gary Middendorf – gmiddendorf@shawmedia.com/)

Lori Schutt had a hunch very early that the youngest of her four boys had basketball in his future.

Armed with a little extra Christmas money, Lori and her husband, Jeff, went to the store to pick out gifts. Sitting in the front of the shopping cart, 2-year-old Jaden pointed at a basketball.

“I remember Jeff saying ‘He picked out a Wilson!” Lori Schutt said.

Jaden was 3 when the Schutts moved to a subdivision outside Yorkville, where he spent many an hour swishing jumpers on the family’s basketball court at the base of a hill. Birthday parties were basketball tournaments – turn on the lights and play into the night.

“Jaden was always constantly practicing and doing things,” Lori Schutt said. “He just couldn’t wait until he could be on his own team and didn’t have to just go to his brother’s games.”

Schutt eventually dressed as a fifth-grader on a Cross Lutheran team with his older brother, Colton, and Sovern’s son Christian. Jaden would sometimes play, but he hadn’t yet hit his growth spurt.

“He was competitive at a young age, that scrappy brother,” Aaron Sovern said. “We knew he was a great player. It really set in that he was a very good player his eighth grade year, with some of the numbers he was putting up. He’s dunking in the warmup line. That focus stayed with him. He’s stayed laser focused throughout.”

Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt and the rest of the Mustangs enter the arena against Liberty in the Class 1A championship game at State Farm Center in Champaign. Friday, Mar. 11, 2022, in Champaign.

Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt and the rest of the Mustangs enter the arena against Liberty in the Class 1A championship game at State Farm Center in Champaign. Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022, in Champaign. (Gary Middendorf – gmiddendorf@shawmedia.com/)

Schutt’s discipline indeed is that of a young man intent on reaching the highest levels of his craft.

Lights out and in bed every night at 10 p.m. Up every morning by 6 a.m. Lori is a nutritionist, and Jaden has all of his meals planned. He confesses to a love for cookies and doughnuts, but loves even more to stay healthy and keep that advantage.

“When he was younger, I would always be talking about nutrition, what is healthy for you, what will help you out,” Lori Schutt said. “I remember a friend of mine offered him if he wanted a Pop Tart or an apple and he said ‘What’s a Pop Tart?’”

Jaden Schutt commits to Duke

As much as anything, Sovern witnessed growth from Schutt this season in his leadership and maturity as he handled every situation with class and maturity.

Yorkville Christian’s players wore pregame shirts with a target on their back. No player felt that scrutiny more than Schutt, with the Duke recruit label and playing for a local private school ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Wherever he went, Schutt was greeted with requests for autographs and pictures. But he also saw the other side of it.

“Opening night, at Washington, he heard some vulgar things,” Sovern said. “But he just handles everything with class and maturity.”

Schutt and the Mustangs certainly took some arrows this season.

Playing a schedule unheard of for a Class 1A school, they faced 10 Class 3A or Class 4A schools that reached the sectional finals. They took their hits, but ended up on top with a state title and a 40-point average margin of victory in the playoffs, the most dominant Class 1A champion in the four-class era.

“The season had its highs and lows, but I don’t think there was ever a time that we thought we were not good enough,” Schutt said. “I wouldn’t have had it be any other way. My early years at Yorkville Christian, we wanted to play the big schools. It was an honor to play those bigger schools, but our goals never changed. Our goal was to win state. We always kept our focus on that.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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