A Walk-On, Jacobs Giving His Best Effort

(Photo by Graham Beck/Heights Editor)

By Chris Stadtler, For The Heights

Drew Jacobs of Mendham High School walked off the court in Plainfield, N.J. after a crushing 74-36 loss in the New Jersey SIAA tournament championship. After a State Championship his sophomore year, two Morris County Championships, and over 1,000 points scored, the point guard had been relegated to a non-athletic regular person (N.A.R.P.). In just seconds, the first team All-Morris County athlete went from the biggest game of the season to being finished with competitive basketball.

Late in his senior spring, however, Jacobs’ N.A.R.P. status began to lose its certainty. “I really didn’t have college basketball on my radar. I was extremely lightly recruited and was expecting to go to college as a student,” said Jacobs, who had already chosen Boston College for school in the fall.

Then his coach Jim Baglin sat down with Jacobs and said he’d like to put him in contact with BC’s Director of Basketball Operations Izzi Metz. Jacobs credits Baglin for giving him the goal to walk on to the Eagles’ basketball team.

My high school coach was the one who convinced me to give it all a shot,” Jacobs said.

Over the course of the summer, Jacobs remained in contact with Metz and met with head coach Steve Donahue during orientation. His fate hardly sealed by a phone call, Jacobs had a lot to prove.

Jacobs is not your typical Division I recruit. He’s a pale guy, and at 6-foot-1, he’s nearly the shortest kid on the team. He is a far cry from the highly recruited Ryan Anderson or the athletic fellow freshman guard Olivier Hanlan. Jacobs did not even receive more than a passing mention in The Heights’ Basketball Preview last week. Most unlikely of all for a DI basketball recruit, he was put on Newton Campus.

Taking just this into consideration would be short-sighted and naive. Last season, Jacobs averaged 22 points per game. He was the only returning starter on a team that had won four Morris County championships in a row, and led his inexperienced team to a share of the NJAC division title.

“Drew is a great leader and a great all-around player,” former teammate David Yee said. “He always takes charge. If you give him the ball, he will do something special with it.’’

If you give Jacobs just about anything, it seems he will do something special with it. Without a guaranteed roster sport, but just a potential tryout, Jacobs was up at 6:30 a.m. every morning preparing for just three practices with the team in September. Between pool workouts in the morning and individual basketball skill training sessions in the afternoon nearly every day over the summer, Jacobs was hardly the average freshman college student. Even on Newton Campus, Jacobs took advantage of what some consider second tier to Upper Campus. While most people were playing Xbox after dark, “that kid,” as he was affectionately called, could be seen seemingly chasing the shuttles up the parking lot until he reversed direction for the last leg of his suicide sprint.

For a potential walk-on at BC, though, this has to be the attitude. Jacobs’ learning curve will primarily involve adjusting to the quickness of the college game. He calls it his biggest obstacle.

“I had to overcome the difference in the pace and speed of the game,” he said. “I have never faced athletes even remotely close to the ones I have seen and am seeing now. The moves that worked in high school, where the biggest guys were 6-foot-3, simply don’t work at the DI college level.”

In late September, Jacobs did his best to take advantage of his small sampling of play. In early October, he was told that he had earned a spot on the 14-man roster. When asked if he ever had doubts, Jacobs said, “I tend to overthink a lot of stuff, but my personal philosophy has been that, if you doubt yourself as a player, you’ll never be successful and able to reach what you’re capable of doing.”

Currently, Jacobs’ role on the team is that of a practice player. In the season opener against FIU he remained in sweats during the game. Despite the lack of early action, the walk on might gain some unlikely minutes. After the transfer of sophomore Jordan Daniels, Jacobs could see some time. Donahue likes to have two point guards on the floor at times—Daniels and Hanlan would have run that scheme. With the departure of Daniels, Jacobs could find a few minutes as one of the other point guards on the team. Additionally, he could also see time as a quick-fix defender, given the defensive skills he honed over the summer.

“Over the next four years, I plan on helping the team out in any way I can,” Jacobs said. “I plan on playing as tough as possible during practice and helping everyone prepare for high-level competition. I feel like if you are working your hardest and pushing everyone to reach their potential, good things will happen.”

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