For the first time since his middle school days, recent Rejoice Christian graduate Jaden Lietzke is not playing on a summer basketball team.
“I’m just fine-tuning everything,” Lietke said. “I just try to find places where there are enough people to play. (And) I’m running whenever I can.”
The Oklahoma Wesleyan signee is instead working out with a future college teammate and someone who already knows the 6-foot-7 post pretty well — his older brother, Janson. The Lietzke siblings will suit up as teammates for the first time next season.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jaden said. “It should be a lot of fun.”
But before he makes the trek over to Bartlesville, Lietzke will represent Rejoice one more time on Saturday in the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association All-State Games. Lietzke will play in the small-school game, which is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. tipoff at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Hamilton Field House in Edmond. The large-school game is first with tipoff at 3 p.m. — a reversal in the order the games are usually played.
Moved from the traditional site of the ORU Mabee Center, the games were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the large- and small-school games were rescheduled and moved to UCO.
Lietzke garnered All-State status following a stellar Rejoice career, which concluded with 1,035 points and 744 rebounds. As a senior, he averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds and became the first Eagle to be named Pinnacle Conference Player of the Year.
As a junior, Lietzke led Rejoice to the program’s first state championship. The Eagles posted a 21-6 record and had earned a return trip to the state tournament last season before high school basketball was shut down due to the virus.
Lietzke was part of a highly successful senior class that took the Rejoice basketball program to new heights, a memory he says he’ll always cherish.
“Just time with my teammates was the most enjoyable part, especially my senior year,” Lietzke said. “I had played with them a long time. … I was just grateful for the opportunity that we got to (win a state championship) once. I’ve learned you can’t take anything for granted.”
Booker T. Washington guards Bryce Thompson and Trey Phipps were selected for the large-school game, but have withdrawn as they prepare for their college careers — Thompson at Kansas and Phipps at Oklahoma. Hornets teammate Jalen Breath was added to the Large East roster along with Metro Christian’s Caden Hale. Memorial’s Bobby Allison, who has led the Chargers to four state titles since 2014, was added as the Large East coach. Nick Gable of Class B state champion Duke was added as the Small West coach, where he has two players on the roster.
Barry Lewis, Tulsa World, contributed to this story.
2020 All World Preseason Football Contest presented by Bill Knight Automotive
Vote here: Meet the nominees for the 2020 All World Preseason Football Contest presented by Bill Knight Automotive