WEST FARGO — West Fargo Sheyenne big man Jacksen Moni has grown into an NCAA Division II college basketball prospect over the past few years.
Eight inches to be exact.
Moni, a 6-foot-10 senior forward for Sheyenne, stood at 6-foot-2 his freshman year. Moni didn’t notice he had added those inches to his height in that span until the start of his junior year.
“After summer you go back and see your friends and you’re way taller than them, and it’s like, ‘What happened now?’” said Moni, who recently committed to Northern State.
A five-inch growth spurt between his sophomore (6-foot-4) and junior years took him to 6-foot-9.
Moni’s height helped the Mustangs, who finished 23-2 last season, clinch the East Region tournament crown in March. The growth spurt has also earned him some interest and offers from Division II schools.
The Sheyenne big man committed to play basketball at Northern State, which competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, a Division II league, a little over a week ago.
“That’s what I’ve been really trying to work at is trying to go to the college level,” Moni said. “And now that I have the opportunity, I’m thankful for that and just excited to play.”
The forward averaged around 11 points per game last season. Moni, the tallest player in the Mustangs program, grabbed 169 rebounds, about 6.7 per game. He was one of the top 10 shot blockers in the conference, totaling 22 blocks. Moni had nine points in the North Dakota Class A boys state basketball quarterfinals to help lift Sheyenne to the semis over Dickinson in March.
But before the Mustangs could reach the semifinals, the tournament was paused at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and eventually canceled.
“This is an outstanding get for Northern State — they are getting a 6-foot-10 basketball player that has a great shot from outside,” said Sheyenne head coach Tom Kirchoffner. “He is a hard worker, has a huge upside, and his best basketball is ahead of him and we look forward to watching him play his senior year at Sheyenne High.”
Moni visited Northern State’s Aberdeen, S.D. campus twice before announcing his commitment. Moni also visited the University of Mary in Bismarck and talked with a couple other schools, but he ultimately decided on Northern State.
“I felt like Northern State felt like home,” Moni said. “I like the coaches a lot, I like the players a lot, and I just like the town.”
Moni will be playing for former North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips at Northern State. Phillips was the men's head coach at NDSU from 2007-2014. He took the job at Northern State last year after spending five seasons as head coach at Ohio University.
Moni went to a couple camps at NDSU when he was younger and Phillips was still with the Bison.
“I just loved him,” Moni said.
A lot has changed since with Moni since then, most notably with his stature.
Moni played both guard and forward his first two seasons at Sheyenne before his growth spurt turned him into a full-time forward.
As Moni grew into his now 6-10 frame, he had to adjust to his new body. His coordination was a little off at first, he said.
“Your knees start to hurt a lot,” Moni said of the growth spurt. “You have to ice after every practice, that’s probably the worst part about it.”
But with the height, his game grew, too.
“I feel like it helps. I could shoot the ball a little bit, and now since I have a little height, it made it easier to defend,” Moni said. “And I know a lot of coaches like players that can defend.”
Moni’s mom is about 6-foot tall. His dad stands at about 6-foot-3. Moni thinks he got most of his height from his great grandpa on his mom’s side, who was around 6-11.
Moni might still reach his great grandpa's height. The last time he went to the doctor, he was told his growth plates were still open. Moni is assuming he’ll grow a little bit, but not too much.