Blake Berg wasn’t a late bloomer. As a freshman at Sheyenne High School, he was moved up to the sophomore team. He landed a spot on varsity as a sophomore, and has been making his mark on the court ever since.
But Berg’s high school career has still been a process, with him continuing to develop over the last three seasons.
After his freshman season, Mustangs head boys basketball coach Tom Kirchoffner sat down with Berg and told him he had a chance to be in the varsity rotation the following year, but Berg would have to make some adjustments if he wanted to play at that level.
“I told him what he had to do. And he improved tremendously in his strength, in his quickness and in his verticality, so he definitely put in the time,” Kirchoffner said.
Now a senior, the 6-foot-4 guard is Sheyenne’s leading scorer, averaging 17.3 points per game. Berg has consistently been one of the top five scorers in the highly competitive Eastern Dakota Conference this year, putting up 104 points in six games.
“It feels great just knowing that all the hard work and time that I put in is paying off,” Berg said. “My teammates are helping me out with that too, it’s not just me getting the points myself.”
The guard is one of the players Kirchoffner relies on heavily. In the EDC, Berg is in the top 10 in rebounding with 44, top five in assists (24) and has the third-most steals (20). He also sits atop his team in those categories.
For the Mustangs (6-0, 5-0 EDC), Berg is the guy who “can do it all.”
“He’s doing it from the rebounding standpoint, he’s doing it from the scoring standpoint, he’s doing it from being aggressive on defense getting steals,” Kirchoffner said. “He does everything, every part of the game.”
Colleges have taken notice to Berg, who as a junior scored 12.1 points per game and was second in the team with 58 assists, and his impressive numbers. He’s received a couple Division II offers, but has turned down the scholarships to follow his dream of playing at the Division I level.
Berg has always wanted to play college basketball. Next year, his goal is to try and play or walk on at a Division I school.
“He’s 6-4, 190 pounds, athleticism jumps out of the gym,” Kirchoffner said. “He has the tools there, it’s just a matter of someone taking a chance on him. He knows that Division II, the NSIC, the local conference, is a heck of a conference. But it just comes down to pursuing his goal, his dream. And I see no question. If I was a college coach, I would take the kid.”
It’s not about getting a Division I offer for Berg. It’s about him wanting to pursue what he feels he can do, Kirchoffner said, which is playing at that level.
“He wants to walk on to prove it to himself that he made it to this level and can play at this level. It’s not for the scholarship,” Kirchoffner said. "Him being a walk on, there’s no offer, there’s no scholarship. It’s just him saying, ‘Hey, I want to work for it.'”
And Kirchoffner, who has coached Berg since eighth-grade football, has no doubt that Berg can play Division I.
“He definitely can play at that level. It's just a matter of, the timing’s gotta be there,” Kirchoffner said. “There’s gotta be an opening, there’s got to be a school that has a spot. Sometimes it’s really tough at the collegiate level, there’s only so many roster spots, and some schools need that center, they need a forward. They don’t need a guard.”
Berg is one of the top players in the EDC, but is also a great kid off the court, Kirchoffner said.
“Outstanding character, he's a guy that’s going to always do the right thing,” Kirchoffner said. “He's a servant leader. When we do our day of giving, our servant leadership, he's a guy that he doesn't waiver. He’s a guy that’s the first to volunteer. He’s a hidden gem.”
After the Mustangs’ first game of the season, Kirchoffner told Berg he had to go out and rebound more. And in the following games, he’s done just that.
“He’s leading by example,” Kirchoffner said. “And that's what you want out of your senior. And he’s one of our captains, that’s what you want out of your captain.”
The son of former Packers basketball standout Kyle Berg, an all-state second team player, Blake Berg’s want to play college basketball was almost genetic. Kyle played in college, and wrapped up his career at Valley City State after playing two years for Minnesota State Moorhead.
His dad has inspired him to keep playing the sport, which he started playing in first grade. With a successful high school campaign in the same town his dad played in, Berg said it feels like he’s following in his dad’s footsteps.
“It’s fun playing in front of him to show him what I can do, and just having him support me is always nice,” Berg said.