JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Basketball was always there.
Although Kevin Oberweiser is the son of former Drummond football coach Jim Oberweiser, who won five state titles with the Trojans from 2003-09, it was basketball where he found his niche in the small Class C town.
“Football was probably my first love, obviously,” the younger Oberweiser said. “I think just growing up in a small town, it was easier to always find time for basketball. Growing up in a small town you don’t always have however many kids to go play football, but for basketball all you need is a hoop and a ball. I found myself just shooting hoops alone or working on my game alone all the time.”
During his senior season at Drummond High School, Oberweiser helped lead the Trojans to the 2014 Class C boys basketball state tournament, but they went 0-2.
Oberweiser pursued the game at the next level, signing on to play at Montana State-Northern, but after three years, his minutes were still limited. He hadn’t lost an ounce of passion for the game, though, and was determined to find a better fit.
“I remember in my recruiting process, there was a coach who said that at the end of the day, it’s all about finding the school where you find the best possibility to reach your peak as a person and as a player,” Oberweiser said. “After a couple years, I reevaluated my situation and realized it wasn’t the best fit for me and I didn’t think that I could reach my full potential (at Northern).
“I definitely don’t regret anything or wish anything would have happened differently. I think everything definitely happened for a reason. There were some tough years at Northern, for sure, and frustrating times, but I look back at those with such appreciation, because there’s no way I’d be at this situation where things are going well. I feel like I’m right where I need to be and it wouldn’t have happened that way had I not gone through the shaky time and the trials.”
Oberweiser pushed emails and game film to coaches and got in contact with University of Jamestown head coach Daniel Neville. Oberweiser and a teammate from Northern travelled to Jamestown in the spring of 2017, where Oberweiser impressed Neville in the brief stint he saw him.
Neville offered Oberweiser a scholarship on his visit, and about two weeks later, Oberweiser gave his verbal commitment.
“He didn’t play much at Montana State-Northern, so we didn’t know what was going to take place on the visit. He came, he was a great kid. He played in the open gym and he really impressed us and the coaches,” Neville said.
All Oberweiser needed was a chance, and Neville and his Jamestown squad have reaped the rewards. The fit was perfect, as Oberweiser’s hard-working mentality and competitive desire meshed with his teammates instantly.
Last season, Jamestown went 20-10 but just missed out on the NAIA Division II national tournament. Oberweiser, known for his shooting stroke, averaged 15.4 points, shooting 49 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point land.
But coming up short pushed Oberweiser and his teammates. Over the summer, several guys stayed and worked out daily — from 6 a.m. weights to individual work during the day to pickup games at night. Both Oberweiser and Neville credit the long summer hours for how the team is playing. This season, the Jimmies are 24-5, ranked 15th in the country, and Oberweiser is the second-leading scorer on the team at 19.2 points per game.
While Oberweiser’s production wasn’t expected when he stepped on campus, Neville knew he could shoot it. But Oberweiser has grown his all-around game, averaging 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists over the past two seasons.
“We went into it thinking we were going to get a good player. The way he’s played his last two years, I thought he was going to be good, but he’s definitely taken it to a different level,” Neville said. “He put a ton of work in. He was always that gifted as a player, he just needed a fresh start. Getting that fresh start sometimes energizes somebody. He put in a ton of time and kind of took off.”
“Just being a competitor and wanting to win, you’ve got to find other ways to do it, whether that be going to get some rebounds or dishing out some assists,” Oberweiser said. “I’ve had some awesome teammates that you give them the ball and they’re able to get some buckets, too. It just goes along with anyway to get that W.”
Jamestown is likely to get an at-large bid to the national tournament should it not win the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament. The Jimmies sit second in the conference behind No. 2 Morningside, which visits Jamestown on Saturday night.
In the season’s first meeting, Morningside beat Jamestown, 87-79, and Oberweiser was held to a season-low two points, his only game below double figures all season. It’s Senior Night for Oberweiser and the Jimmies, and he fully expects to bounce back, as well as display some of the fiery passion he carries from the gridiron.
“Being from a small town and (having) football in my background, it’s led to my fire and competitive nature,” Oberweiser said. “I think (playing better) just comes along with playing hard. Definitely not focusing on anything too far in the future but taking it one play at a time and trying to play my butt off, that’s all I’m used to doing.”