Brandon Jacobs Reaps Rewards of Decision
With a myriad student athletes shouldering the "Division 1 or bust mentality" and some even passing up Division-II offers to wait out for that sought after Division 1 offer, Cambria Heights, NY native Brandon Jacobs' story emphasizes the long-term value of choosing the right fit.
Jacobs, a high IQ, and traditional point guard who played behind Cole Anthony at Molloy before pioneering the offense at Long Island Lutheran HS (LuHi), is currently entering a heavily anticipated 2021-22 season at Division-II Pace University in Pleasantville.
Jacobs has evolved as the program's all-time leader in assists, coming off a 2019-20 season in which he averaged an NE-10 best 10 assists to go with 13.4 points and 4.1 assists. He's broken several program records at Pace, including the single game assists record.
Jacobs doled out 19 assists during an 82-71 victory over St. Rose College, establishing a new program high water mark just two weeks after handing out 10 assists against St. Michael's College. Jacobs would follow this performance up with 10 assists against Southern Connection State.
"Brandon has been elevating everyone's game and that's always the sign of a great point guard," explained Pace head coach Matt Healing, who has tapped into the New York City market significantly during his time at the helm with the Setters.
"He's got the chance to be in the (Northeast-10) conference's all-time books for assists. As it became evident how much our success revolved around Brandon, we tweaked the offensive system even more."
While he culminated his senior year at LuHi with Division-1 interest, he committed to Pace in February of his senior year. Sensing the opportunity to author an immediate impact from the beginning, he pulled the trigger without entertaining the option to wait in the wings for Division-1 offers in April or May.
Unlike many of today's misguided youth, Jacobs chose the hardwood destination where he filled a notable need. Sold on his relationship with the coaching staff, a strength of schedule which includes several Division 1 programs, and a high caliber facility, Jacobs went where he was most wanted and most belonged.
"I feel like in recruiting, you should go where your wanted," said Jacobs, who will get an additional year and be on scholarship for pursuit of his Master's degree in 2021-22.
"That's really the most important thing. When I came to Pace, it was considered a rebuild. Really, we weren't rebuilding though, we just hit the ground running."
Jacobs cited a close battle to Rhode Island (which was coming off an NCAA tournament run at the time) as an "eye opener" for him. He said after going eyeball to eyeball with NBA prospect Fats Russell, he came back with a chip on his shoulder. He made sacrifices when commuting from Queens to Long Island while at LuHi, putting in the extra work and leaving at 6:30 AM to make the trek every day.
Ultimately, the system at LuHi helped prepare Jacobs for the rigors of the collegiate level. He scored 24 points and eight assists in his first ever college game. He cited his coaches at LUHI for helping prepare him for the transition.
"Brandon was very consistent for us at LuHi," explained Derek Klein, an assistant coach under John Buck at the program.
"He was a throwback type of old school point guard. You knew what he would bring every night--toughness, leadership, the assist to turnover ratio was where you wanted your point guard to be. He was a knockdown shooter from the 3, the kid flat out just one games. With the ball in his hands, we felt very comfortable and confident we would get the right shot every time down the floor."
Projected as a glove fit into an offense that allowed him to operate in pick and roll sequences and provide poised shot making, he got the ball from the get-go. He played 31 minutes as a freshman, was second in scoring with 12.3 PPG, and garnered Conference Rookie of the Week multiple times.
"BJ didn't care about what Division or what level he was going to go to," Klein said.
"He cared about controlling what he could control, and that was his effort and the work he constantly put in. Every summer at our LuHi camp, our older guys would work out in the mornings before the camp started. He was the first guy there every time and each summer he improved another part of his game. This is why each year; his stats would improve. He got stronger, in better shape. He increased his range, whatever the coach told him to work on he worked on tirelessly. He deserves everything he's worked for."
Jacobs said he's shifted his gaze to being a more aggressive scorer and continuing his torrid facilitating pace. He said that goals such as an NCAA tournament berth and a memorable, historic season has kept him and his teammates motivated, even with this season cancelled due to COVID-19.
"We were in the Top-25 for the first time in about 30 years last year," he said. "We definitely have the returning pieces and the experience to come out on top."