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Jaxon Kohler, a Michigan State Spartan and Latter-day Saint, says faith fuels his basketball career

Kohler and the Spartans are competing in the Big Ten tournament this week

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Michigan State’s Jaxon Kohler drives against Indiana’s Race Thompson, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.

Michigan State’s Jaxon Kohler, right, drives against Indiana’s Race Thompson during an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich.

Al Goldis, Associated Press

Michigan State basketball player Jaxon Kohler wakes up each day wondering how he can repay God for the gift of his athletic skills. In that way, he explained during a recent episode of “Spartans All-Access,” his faith has fueled his already impressive basketball career.

“My faith is a huge part of me. Without it, I don’t believe that I would be in this same position,” he said.

That’s one reason why Kohler, who grew up in American Fork, Utah, and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, doesn’t shy away from talking about his church when he’s asked. And, according to him, he’s asked about it quite a bit.

“The one question I’m always asked is am I a Mormon, and the answer is yes. It’s something that I really enjoy telling people about,” said Kohler, who is a freshman at Michigan State.

According to his bio on the team website, the 6-foot-9 Kohler is the first Utahn to play for Michigan State. He’s averaging just under 12 minutes of playing time per game in his first season with the program.

Kohler caught the attention of famed coach Tom Izzo during his extensive high school basketball career. In addition to playing for American Fork, he spent time at various development camps and festivals, as well as on the Strive for Greatness team alongside LeBron James Jr., who is better known as Bronny.

In the new video, Kohler shared that he has no regrets about choosing Michigan State. His father, Jeff, who was also interviewed by “Spartans All-Access,” said he’s thankful for the trust the school has put into his son.

“To give him the opportunity so early I think speaks volumes about how hard he’s worked and what he’s capable of accomplishing while he’s here,” Jeff Kohler said.

Michigan State has gone 19-11 this season and is fourth in the Big Ten heading into this week’s conference tournament. The Spartans are expected to nab a spot in the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN.

Kohler said that thinking of his basketball skills as a gift from God has helped shape the course of his life. He encouraged others to engage in similar reflections — and then to live accordingly.

“God has given you a gift whether it be athletic ability (or) whether it be intelligence. Whatever it may be, that’s God’s gift to you. Your gift to God is what you do with those abilities,” he said.