Jaxson Gould of Warsaw makes a clean steal of the ball from Plymouth's Easton Strain during his junior year. Gould recently committed to play collegiate basketball at Indiana Wesleyan University in 2023.
Jaxson Gould of Warsaw makes a clean steal of the ball from Plymouth's Easton Strain during his junior year. Gould recently committed to play collegiate basketball at Indiana Wesleyan University in 2023.
Warsaw Tiger senior guard and 2022 Times-Union Player of the Year Jaxson Gould tweeted his announcement to commit to the Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) men’s basketball program June 24. The Times-Union caught up with him to discuss the takeaways of an early commitment, and the process leading him toward being a future Wildcat.

The All-Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) cager now has a clear path toward goals of an NLC team title hopefully segueing to postseason success in his senior season with his decision now in his rear-view mirror.

“There's nothing to worry about now, right? I know that's where I'm going,” Gould remarked. “I'm super happy about my decision. Now I'm just gonna’ go out and play with my best friends (Warsaw Tiger teammates) and try to do everything I can to win.

“Coaches and players I meet along the way will just talk about stuff other than recruiting.”

Gould’s comment is testimony to what makes him special as a person, and not just a premiere performer on the court. He loves the basketball community and places a high value in the relationships he cultivates among teammates, his coaching staff, and opposing players and coaches as well.

His two prior seasons as a varsity starter improved year over year in scoring (from 16.6 to 19.7 points per game), rebounding (5.3 to 5.6 rebounds per game), and assists (2.6 to 3.1 assists per game). The 6’3” guard, heading into his senior season, is 159 points from joining Warsaw’s 1,000-point club.

Gould’s defense visibly improved year over year, too. In fact, he made comparatively greater strides in his defensive play than he already made offensively.

He began to receive attention from college programs after completing his sophomore year for the orange and black.

“(The) recruiting definitely started… right after my sophomore year… it came pretty quickly,” Gould noted. “I wasn't really expecting it to be so quick.”

He shared additional takeaways resulting from his early commitment with the Marion-based IWU program. It afforded him time, for instance, to quickly cultivate relationships with future teammates.

“It (gave me) the time and the ability - this summer - to be able to spend the night (on campus), work out with the guys, help at camp, and play open gym. I’ve started building a relationship with them. They're gonna be my roommates and my teammates for the years to come.”

A little help from a power higher than the college coaching level also led to the decision to clear his mind to prepare for his upcoming senior season, and his college hoops career in turn.

“I just felt like in my heart Jesus was telling me that it was meant to be,” Gould said, “So, there was no reason for me to wait and see what else happened this year.”

The Tiger guard has a killer instinct on the floor where he averages nearly two steals per game for his career to date and can put away opposing defenses with a 39% 3-point field goal clip.

He kept his heart in the proper place, however, during the process leading to his decision to join the Wildcats’ NAIA program. His core value of positive, sincere relationships is echoed in his remarks about the hardest part of the recruiting process.

“Narrowing the list was definitely… the hardest,” Gould opined. “I had some of the hardest conversations I've ever had in my life because you build such good relationships with all the coaches and the players that recruit you. It's so hard to tell them ‘No,’ that you're not going there.

“The best advice I can give people that are gonna’ go through (the recruiting process) is be confident with your decision. Respectfully and honestly tell (the schools you do not choose). I called every single coach that offered me… ahead of time out of respect because they still have to recruit other people for their program.”

Gould spent time in his youth watching IWU basketball thanks to a familiar face, 2017 Warsaw alum Kyle Mangas, who had four stellar seasons at IWU. Mangas has since moved on to a professional league in the Czech Republic (Czechia). The Wildcats’ facilities were also a big draw for the Tiger senior.

“I've been around IWU basketball since Kyle was playing. I grew up watching him, and I went to numerous games: the Crossroads League tournament, the national tournament, and the regular season.

“It's a small school but the facilities they have are off the charts,” Gould said. “Their gym is a special place. It's not the biggest but it's packed, and it's loud. I love the locker room, and the guys are in there all the time. I wanna’ be able to spend time with my teammates. They have…a facility where you can go in there and hang out whenever you want. I also like the fact they have a football team so, yeah; it's going to be fun to watch.”

Gould’s parting salvo echoed his satisfaction with an early commitment clearing the path for the challenges and achievements this coming basketball season awaiting him and his teammates whose relationships he values so much.

“It's just me and my best friends that I grew up with getting to play one last time together,” he remarked. “I'm free, my mind is free, and my body is free.”