Gist hopes to have same impact on Berea program as he did with Dragons


Jon Dickenson

Harlan senior forward Jaedyn Gist signed with Berea College earlier this week to continue his academic and basketball careers. Pictured with Gist are, from left, front row: Talae Taylor, James Gist, Gist, Mary Wilson and Sedrick Washington; back row: Harlan High School Principal Britt Lawson, Harlan coach Derrick Akal and Harlan assistant coach Jeremy Williams.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

As one of the 13th Region’s best post players over the last three years despite giving up several inches of height most nights at 6-foot, Jaedyn Gist left his mark on the Harlan High School program through a period of success that was unmatched this century.
He hopes to have the same impact on the next level after signing recently with Berea College, a Division III school that finished in a tie for second last season in the new Collegiate Conference of the South. Gist will move from guard to forward on the next level and is looking forward to the challenge.
“I chose Berea because I felt like it was my best option, and after visiting the campus as well as speaking with the coach I felt it was the perfect spot for mr,” Gist said. “I felt that me and the coach had a great connection while on the visit as well. While playing at Berea, I plan to play guard and show I’m a college level talent as well as a good leader on and off the court.”
“Jaedyn is the perfect fit as a player and teammate for our program at Berea College. His athleticism, toughness and positive energy is something that we hope will make an immediate impact on our team next season,” Berea coach Austin Newton said. “We are extremely excited about adding Jaedyn and his recruiting class to a team that went 15-11 last season and only lost two seniors.  We feel like there is something really special happening here at Berea and can’t wait for him to be a part of it.”
Gist was a study of consistency in his high school career as both a scorer and rebounder, using his athleticism to beat opponents off the dribble and chase down rebounds. He averaged 11.5 points and 8.6 rebounds as a sophomore, then scored 12.8 points and grabbed 11 rebounds per game in the first of two junior seasons. He followed with averages of 13.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2022 and 14.5 points and 9.4 rebounds this past season.
“I expect Jaeydn to play hard and be Mr. Everything on the floor and in the locker room as he was for our team and school district,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said.
Gist helped lead the Dragons to four straight All “A” regional titles, including a final four appearance in 2022. The Dragons won the school’s first WYMT Mountain Classic last season on the way to posting a 24-8 record as the 52nd District runner-up.
“I hate that it’s over because it was a pleasure playing for our crowd and performing for our school. All great things have to come to an end one day, but I can’t say I’m leaving Harlan High School saying I wish I could’ve done this or that because we accomplished a lot of things the five years I played under coach Akal,” Gist said. “A lot of our achievements weren’t done for the last 20 years, so it definitely felt great knowing that. Therefore, the only thing I can truly say is thank you to all my coaches, teammates and family for allowing me to shine.”