Everyone knows that Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has some big men to replace. Top recruit Skal Labissiere can help there, but another 7-footer who is headed to Lexington can’t … because he isn’t part of the team.
Instead, Sean Hjelle, who is a senior at Mahtomedi High in the Twin Cities, is headed to Lexington to be the Wildcats’ next star pitcher. The lanky teen has hit 90 miles-per-hour with his fastball on rare occasions, and while he acknowledges he needs to achieve that more often, there is every possibility he’ll do that with additional seasoning for the Wildcats.
Hjelle is well aware he is unique, and that his skills can be amplified by his long limbs. It’s part of the reason why he has chosen baseball above his other sport, basketball (no surprise there), though the senior insisted in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, that passion was driving his decision.
“Not a lot of people my size play baseball,” Hjelle told the Pioneer Press. “I always tell people that, though I love basketball, baseball is really my passion. It’s my life.
“… when the time comes, I’ll be ready to just focus on baseball.”
That time is coming soon, and his current basketball coach said Hjelle has all the traits to be successful at the next level, with a heavy emphasis on his leadership capabilities.
“He’s hard to miss; you can always hear his voice,” Mahtomedi basketball coach Keith Newman told the Pioneer Press. “You can always see his hands pointing. You definitely can’t miss him. These guys respect him, and they listen to him when he talks.”