Boys Basketball: 2 Warriors reunite at SJU

Mitch Degen and Griffin Rushin will both be teammates again at St. John's University

basketball players
Former Brainerd boys basketball players Mitch Degen, left, and Griffin Rushin get ready for a game during the 2021 season. Both players will be teammates next year at St. John's University.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Two former Brainerd boys basketball players will be reunited next year.

Griffin Rushin, a 2021 Brainerd graduate, just finished up his freshman year at St. John’s University. He’ll be joined by 2022 Brainerd graduate Mitch Degen next year.

As a freshman, Rushin saw limited time for the Johnnies and helped win the MIAC Championship.

The Johnnies beat Macalester College in the MIAC Title game 75-71 to reach the Division III NCAA Tournament where they lost in the first round to Calvin College.

“I definitely learned a lot about the work ethic it takes to win and to play,” Rushin said. “Definitely learned how to play the whole game and how to play tough. It was a fun experience getting to the national tournament, the MIAC Championship. All the fans and the experience of people hyping you up is fun.”


Griffin Rushin
Griffin Rushin.

Rushin, a 6-foot-8 wing, appeared in 15 games as a freshman and scored 22 points over 53 minutes. He shot 10-for-18 from the field and snatched 10 rebounds.

As a senior at Brainerd, Rushin was the Dispatch Player of the Year in the shortened 2020-21 season.

Rushin averaged 21.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his last season in Warriors uniform. He shot 53% from the field, 39% from 3-point and 85% from the free throw.

As a junior, Rushin was named to the Dispatch All-Area Second Team where he averaged 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds a game on 46% shooting.

This offseason, Rushin is focused on getting stronger.

“I think that’s the biggest factor,” he said. “Just getting bigger and stronger in the weight room and then hopefully that translates on the court.”

Degen committed to St. John’s on his Twitter page March 27 and was celebrated on May 18 at Warriors signing day.

“I just really loved the school and the coaches,” Degen said. “I grew up watching the program, so it was definitely a goal to play there when I was older. I’m really excited to be there.”


Mitch Degen

He finished his senior season this last winter and was named to the Dispatch All-Area First Team for the second straight year.

Degen, a 6-5 forward, averaged 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a senior. He shot 52% from the field and 66% from the free throw line.

As a junior, Degen averaged 13.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists on 51% shooting.

“I just want to get more athletic,” Degen said about going into his freshman year at St. John’s. “If I want to adapt to the college game better, I have to get a lot quicker and probably lose some weight and gain it back in strength.”

Both Degen and Rushin are excited to represent Brainerd for years to come at St. John’s.

“I’m excited just based on our chemistry and how we’ve been friends the past four years and throughout high school,” Rushin said. “I think my senior year we had a cool bond and it'll be fun.”

Degen added: “It’s fun because we have been playing a lot together the last four years. Even like outside of high school basketball. We have a good bond and we hang out a lot. He’s been kind of kicking my butt this summer which is good.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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