Van Horn grad Jaden Monday quickly earns starting time in college

Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Washburn University guard Jaden Monday drives with the help of a screen in last week's game at William Jewell. Monday, who led Van Horn to the state final four last season, is starting as a freshman for the Ichabods.

Though the results weren’t what he wanted, Jaden Monday enjoyed a trip back to the Kansas City area.  

Last Wednesday, the Washburn freshman guard drew his second straight start but the Ichabods fell 56-52 to William Jewell in Liberty. 

Van Horn boys basketball coach Max Sollars had a seat at midcourt, while other former Falcon teammates were there to watch. Monday even got to catch up with Sean Mitchell, who plays football at William Jewell and was there working with the student-media group broadcasting the game. 

“It felt good,” Monday said. “I had a few teammates and friends from high school that came out. It means a lot definitely. Those are my guys and for them to take the time to come out and support me, it was really good. Even a few of the younger guys that were on (Van Horn) JV came out. It means a lot to have that kind of friendship with those guys still.” 

Monday finished with eight points, had three steals, two rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes. 

“It has been good, but I’ve still got a lot to learn,” Monday said of being a freshman starter. “I’m absorbing a lot of information. I got to keep moving and doing my best, but I'm definitely having fun. It is a big transition, definitely (from high school). The speed of the game is a little more different, which is OK. My game is speed but every facet of the game is a little bit faster.

Former Van Horn all-state guard Jaden Monday makes a pass to a Washburn University teammate in last week's game at William Jewell. Monday is starting for the Ichabods early in his freshman season.

“I just feel myself getting better. There are a lot of fast guys and all these guys are super talented. You’ve really got to do your job. Nothing is given to you in college. I got to try to fit in and do what I can to help my team win.” 

The setback against Jewell was the second straight loss for Washburn, which was No. 11 in NCAA Division II in the first poll of the season. 

One of six freshmen on the roster, Monday moved into a key role the first game of the season. All-American guard Tyler Gieman was injured two minutes into the season opener last weekend against No. 15-ranked Northern State. 

In came Monday, who played a team-high 30 minutes and scored 10 points. He drew his first start in a loss against Augustana on Saturday, Nov. 13. 

“It is definitely a big learning curve, kind of getting thrown into the fire,” said Monday, who moved to Topeka in June to get ready for school. “I think I am built for that. I’ve got a lot of great teammates and great coaches that helped me figure it out. We are playing high-level competition and being able to get that experience early will be super beneficial to me in the future.” 

Monday and the Ichabods are back home for five games in a row after three games on the road to open the campaign. Washburn went 20-7 last year and reached the Division II playoffs after winning the MIAA postseason tournament title.