Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears center Orion Dybdahl signs a letter of intent Monday to play basketball at Centralia College as brother Eli Dybdahl, mother Sarah Dybdahl, sister Michaela Demmert, father Travis Dybdahl and JDHS coach Robert Casperson look on Monday at the JDHS gym. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears center Orion Dybdahl signs a letter of intent Monday to play basketball at Centralia College as brother Eli Dybdahl, mother Sarah Dybdahl, sister Michaela Demmert, father Travis Dybdahl and JDHS coach Robert Casperson look on Monday at the JDHS gym. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Dybdahl signs to Centralia College

Crimson Bears big man noted for ‘athleticism and high basketball IQ’

  • By Klas Stolpe Juneau Empire
  • Tuesday, May 23, 2023 2:03pm
  • Sports

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior Orion “OJ” Dybdahl signed a letter of intent on Monday to attend Centralia College in Centralia, Washington, and play basketball for the Trailblazers.

“I love his length and I love his mobility for sure,” Centralia College head coach Joe Chirhart said. “He is not going to come here and not play. He is going to come in and play ample minutes, possibly work his way into the starting lineup. I am really excited.”

Dybdahl averaged roughly 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot per game this season. He played in all 31 games and led the Crimson Bears to the Region V Championship and a berth in the ASAA State tournament in March where they fell in the consolation championship.

It was in that game against Dimond High School that Centralia coaches got a first hand look at the mobile Dybdahl.

“He was the real deal,” said Chirhart, a 2002 graduate of Dimond and three-year state player. Chirhart was just hired as head coach three weeks ago but was an assistant coach and head of recruiting this past season. He also saw Dybdahl play at the Prep Alaska Shootout in January.

“OJ stood out in the state tournament man,” said Chirhart. “Both the big kids from Dimond had committed to colleges and I was really there to watch those guys, but OJ played great against them. He gave them fits, neither one of them had a very successful time against him. I loved OJ’s mobility as a 6’7 guy. He played the post area but that kid can move man. He can get up and down the court.”

In the state tournament Dybdahl earned two Player of the Game honors and was selected to the All-Tournament Team.

“Coach Chirhart was up there looking at one of their players and said he liked the way I played,” Orion Dybdahl said. “He reached out later, and a few more colleges reached out but Centralia seemed like the right option.”

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears senior center Orion Dybdahl, seated at center, signed a letter of intent Monday to play basketball at Centralia College, in Centralia, Washington. The Blazers play in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC). From left: Mother Sarah Dybdahl, brother Eli Dybdahl, teammates Joey Aline, Jhowel Estigoy and Alwen Carrillo, sister Michaela Demmert, father Travis Dybdahl and JDHS coach Robert Casperson. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears senior center Orion Dybdahl, seated at center, signed a letter of intent Monday to play basketball at Centralia College, in Centralia, Washington. The Blazers play in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC). From left: Mother Sarah Dybdahl, brother Eli Dybdahl, teammates Joey Aline, Jhowel Estigoy and Alwen Carrillo, sister Michaela Demmert, father Travis Dybdahl and JDHS coach Robert Casperson. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Dybdahl said he will bring height and length, “but I definitely think I bring hard working spirit. I won’t ever give up and hopefully I can make an impact. They want to play a fast-paced game and Coach Chirhart said they wanted to bring in a lot of high character kids, a lot of leaders, so that is exciting.”

Dybdahl plans to major in engineering as he works to secure another basketball offer after his two seasons with Centralia.

“Hopefully I can transfer to a four-year DII or DIII, further my education while continuing to play,” he said. “I definitely need to get in the weight room a little more and work on my shooting, dribbling and things like that.”

JDHS coach Robert Casperson noted that Dybdahl’s work ethic is what stands out, including a dedication before last season to put on 20 pounds of muscle on his 6-foot-7 frame.

“Centralia is getting the kind of kid that I think every coach would be blessed to work with,” said Casperson. “He completely dedicated himself to everything we asked him to do, he was always working hard, he was willing to set goals and worked to achieve them. They are getting a kid that finishes extremely well around the basket, brings in some leadership and is very excited to be a part of their program.”

Family hoops ties run deep for Orion. His grandfather Johan Dybdahl was inducted into the Gold Medal Hall of Fame in ’96 after many years of play in the tournament and then as one of its most respected coaches. Johan’s brother Jim was inducted into the GMHOF in 2000.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears senior center Orion Dybdahl, seated, poses with brother Eli Dybdahl, mother Sarah Dybdahl, sister Michaela Demmert, father Travis Dybdahl and JDHS coach Robert Casperson after signing to play basketball at Centralia College. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears senior center Orion Dybdahl, seated, poses with brother Eli Dybdahl, mother Sarah Dybdahl, sister Michaela Demmert, father Travis Dybdahl and JDHS coach Robert Casperson after signing to play basketball at Centralia College. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Dybdahl’s father Travis, a 1997 JDHS grad, helped the Crimson Bears to three trips to the state tournament and a state championship in ’97. He played two years of college basketball in the NWAC, helping Grays Harbor win the title, and another year at Southern Oregon before becoming one of the all-time leading scorers in Gold Medal and a 2014 GMHOF member.

“This is a proud moment for us,” Travis Dybdahl said. “To see all his hard work and love for the game come to this is really special.”

Sister Michaela Demmert, a 2014 Thunder Mountain High School grad, played club basketball at Dartmouth and has starred on the Gold Medal floor and mother Sarah graduated from Klawock in 1998 and continued her high school hoops success into the annual Gold Medal tournaments in Juneau.

“He has been playing basketball since he was little, just given who his father is and coming from a basketball family,” Sarah Dybdahl said. “I think it was kind of in his fifth grade year that he took to it and found a love for it and it has been fun to watch him grow ever since. The difficult thing was, OJ, for his age, is a year younger so he will be 17 when graduating. So playing in a grade level instead of an age bracket has always been a challenge he faced and I think he has done it with a lot of integrity and grit.”

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears senior center Orion Dybdahl, seated, and teammates Alwen Carrillo, Joey Aline and Jhowel Estigoy at Dybdahl’s signing to play basketball for Centralia College. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears senior center Orion Dybdahl, seated, and teammates Alwen Carrillo, Joey Aline and Jhowel Estigoy at Dybdahl’s signing to play basketball for Centralia College. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Centralia College likes to push the ball up the court and will play fast according to Chirhart.

“I wanted a big man that can get up and down and he does that,” said Chirhart. “And specifically I like what he does on the defensive end, covering posts up high and in the blocks, that is huge.”

Chirhart also noticed times on the floor where Dybdahl picked up his teammates, would never pout when rested, celebrated his teammates successes, and his attention to coaches instructions.

“I want kids with high motors, high energy,” said Chirhart. “But also high IQ and are coachable as well and he checks all of those boxes.”

Another box, often overlooked for basketball effectiveness, is that Dybdahl is left-handed.

“I have five kids that are lefties,” said Chirhart. “I think that is a plus on the court. And OJ is just a great kid. When I signed him I received multiple phone calls down here from folks asking if he was Travis’ kid. He comes from a great family and having a family member that knows what to expect from the NWAC is big time. The game has evolved a bit. My hope and goal is to help him develop a confidence and comfort in his shooting ability. When you are 6’7 you are put with your back to the basket in high school but at the college level there are guards that size. My hope and goal is every kid I have moves on to a four-year. For us he will play a lot of post but I think with his skill set he will be able to pick and pop or play the wing. I don’t question his ability to rebound and put back but I do want to help him develop some ball handling and outside shooting so he is confident and ready to move on to a four-year after us.”

Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

More in Sports

Barn swallows firmly attach their nests to walls, so they support the weight of nestlings and visiting adults.  (Photo by Bob Amrstrong)
On the Trails: Spring to summer

Spring temperatures were cool this year, but the lengthening days gave birds… Continue reading

In the spirit of Dolly Parton’s country music roots, race participant Mendenhall River Community School Principal Eric Filardi runs in costume with young Lucy Vogel wearing heart-shaped sunglasses as they enjoy the sunny Saturday weather on the Airport Dike Trail race course. About 85 runners participated, many wearing pearls and pink hats provided at the starting tent. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Busting out the pink and pearls at the first Dolly Dash

Dolly Parton-inspired fun run raises funds for free books for kids.

People often use sea ice, as seen here off Alaska’s northern coast outside the town of Utqiagvik, for travelling. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Did sea ice help populate the Americas?

Human footprints preserved in mud at White Sands National Park in New… Continue reading

A cruise ship makes its way through early morning fog last summer. The passengers who have been arriving lately have not been experiencing similar tranquility. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Racing the weather

Daylight is unstoppable this time of year. Not like up in the… Continue reading

Juneau’s Nate Fick leaps to make a catch while another Eagle River run scores during the opening game Thursday of the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
Crimson Bears finish sixth at state baseball tournament, coach calls season promising for young team

JDHS loses to Chugiak in consolation finale; scenarios for next season expand due to TMHS merger.

Brown-headed cowbirds are professional egg-dumpers, always parasitizing the nests of other species. (CC BY 2.0 public domain photo).
On the Trails: Egg dumping behavior

Egg-dumping refers to the behavior of a female who puts her eggs… Continue reading

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School softball team pose for a shot following their 18-0 victory against North Pole High School on Friday during the Division II Alaska School Activities Association Softball State Championships in Fairbanks. (Thunder Mountain Softball photo)
Final flight of the TMHS Falcons ends with 6-4 loss on final day of state softball tournament

“It’s been a fun ride,” coach says as team wins conference title, goes 29-12 during its final season.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Landon Simonson is greeted at home after hitting a grand slam on Friday during the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships in Anchorage. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
JDHS baseball, TMHS softball teams make it to final day of state tournaments

Crimson Bears play for consolation title after grand slam win Friday; Falcons still in title hunt

The Fairbanks Experimental Farm on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus opened in 1906. (UAF photo by Todd Paris, taken in September 2014)
Alaska Science Forum: The gardening potential of the Last Frontier

More than 100 years ago, a man traveled north on a mission… Continue reading

Thunder Mountain High School’s Ashlyn Gates, seen here pitching against Sitka High School during the Region V softball conference tournament last Saturday in Juneau, was named player of the game in an 8-0 win over Delta Junction High School to open the state softball title tournament on Thursday in Fairbanks. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire file photo)
TMHS wins state softball tournament openers 8-0, 16-1; JDHS falls short in baseball title quest

Falcons face Kodiak High School on Friday, Crimson Bears play consolation game against Colony.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Ida Meyer (301) and Etta Eller (294) lead the 3,200 at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Track and Field State Championships on Saturday. (Pete Pounds / Alaska Sports Report)
JDHS’ Etta Eller takes gold, Ida Meyer silver in 3,200 at state track and field championships

Eller also wins 1,600; Wilder Dillingham wins 200 during event in Anchorage.

An orange-crowned warbler looks for bugs on a willow (Photo by K.M. Hocker)