Passing the passion on: Both Gach returns to Austin for basketball camp 

Published 2:09 pm Monday, August 16, 2021

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Austin seventh grader Xzayveun Severin grew up watching Both Gach and the Austin Packer boys basketball team capture the attention of the entire community as they qualified for back-to-back state tournaments in 2016 and 2017 and he can now say he has stepped on the same court as his heros.

Severin won a game of ‘Lightning’ against Both, his twin brother Duoth and plenty of other Packer greats and youth players alike at the Both Gach Camp in Ellis Middle School Monday. Severin was one of the many youths who attended the two-day camp and he made the most of his time.

“It’s really fun. One of the funnest things of the summer,” Severin said. “We’ve been learning a lot of things. We did some shooting drills and we’re learning how to be shifty with the ball.”

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Both, who transferred from the Minnesota Gophers back to the Utah Utes men’s basketball team this summer, was able to host his own camp, due to a new rule that allows for NCAA Division I athletes the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness. Both is now a part of history as DI athletes are finally able to transfer their status into income.

“(The new rule) opens up a lot of doors,” Both said. “We’re able to have sponsorships, run camps like this and do other things. It feels like we’re pro athletes and we can do anything we can find. It’s been pretty fun. There’s a lot of people taking full advantage of it and I’m going to take full advantage of it and do as much as I can with it.”

After leaving Austin to play his senior season at Arizona Compass Prep, Both has been playing Division I basketball for the past three years. He averaged 10.7 points and 2.9 assists per game in his sophomore season at Utah and 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in his junior season at Minnesota.

Former Rochester Mayo standout Gabe Madsen has also transferred to Utah, which has a new head coach in Craig Smith, who was previously the head coach at Utah State. 

“I’m just trying to showcase my abilities the best I can. I’ve been working out and trying to get better,” Both said. “I’m back at Utah with a whole new coaching staff and some guys that I know. We’re looking to have a really good season.”

Both used his two day camp to bring back some of the best players in recent years for the Packers. Oman Oman, Gach Gach and Ajuda Nyewsh were all on hand to help with the camp.

“I thought it would be a good idea to come back home and have a camp with these young guys, where I can share my knowledge of the game with the younger kids,” Both said. “I’m here with my brothers and friends that I went to school with. It’s pretty fun. If it has anything to do with basketball, we’re always having fun.”

Tate Hebrink, who is entering his senior season at Valley City State University, and Duoth, who has committed to to play with Hebrink at VCSU after a one-year hiatus from basketball, were also helping out with the camp.

Hebrink and Duoth were both happy to be part of an event that boosts the love of basketball for the community of Austin.

“It’s great to have Both back to have his own camp. This is the first one and hopefully we get more and more people every year,” Hebrink said. “It’s super important because a lot of kids in Austin look up to Both.”

Now Hebrink and Duoth will focus on their season at VCSU. The Vikings went 19-7 overall last season and have also added former Mankato East standout Uhana Ochan to join former Riverland Blue Devil and East player Eddie Oyet.

Duoth is more than ready to get back on the court for VCSU after catching up on school for a year. In his last full season in 2020, Duoth was named Mon-Dak Conference Player of the Year at North Dakota State College of Science.

“Their whole team is coming back from last year and (Valley City) is a great fit for me,” he said. “I spent the year working on basketball and staying focused. I missed it a lot, but it’s going to be a show now.”

Hebrink is looking forward to another season with his good friend and former high school teammate.

“I’m super excited. Duoth and I are not only going to be on the same team again,” Hebrink said. “We’re going to be living together. I’m looking forward to it and it’s going to be an even better season than last year.”