In The Crosshairs
With the hoop and his goals in focus, reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Year Nick Jacobson zeros in on the final weeks of his sophomore season.
Feb. 15, 2002
By Casey Wilson, Sports Information Student Assistant
He is one of the most dangerous outside shooters ever to step foot on the floor of the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Last season, his sharp-shooting abilities landed him in the staring lineup and helped him earn Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year accolades. Returning to the team as a sophomore this season, 6-4 guard Nick Jacobson once again gives the Utes a tremendous threat from the perimeter.
After an impressive freshman campaign in 2000-01, Jacobson views the 2001-02 season as an opportunity. The homecoming of head coach Rick Majerus inspired him to work hard during the off-season, in hopes of becoming a more complete player.
"Nick's worked very hard," credits Majerus. "He's probably among the one or two hardest workers in the program, and that's evident in his improvement. He's becoming more versatile as a player."
"Things have been quite a bit different this season, admits Jacobson, "but so far it has been a lot of fun. It has been a lot different than last year. With Coach Majerus back, it has been really intense and detail oriented. It has been tough to become accustomed to the small details, but at the same time, it's a lot of fun knowing that he is helping us become better players. That is what I came here for."
No question, the small details were what brought the Fargo, N.D., native to the University of Utah. As a senior at Roseville High School in Minnesota, Jacobson averaged 31.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He was an honorable mention All-American and a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Basketball award.
Jacobson was recruited by schools across the country, including Minnesota, Texas and Stanford. After weighing his options, it was Majerus that inspired him to become a Ute. "Utah seemed to want me the most out of all the teams that were recruiting me. But mostly, I wanted to have the opportunity to play for Coach Majerus. The main reason I wanted to play for him was because of his honesty. When we talked, he was up front and told me exactly what he felt. He has a lot of experience and he's a great coach," says Jacobson.
Coming to Utah in 1999, Jacobson sat out his first season as a redshirt. "When I came here I wanted to make an immediate impact," states Jacobson. "It was frustrating because I wanted to be able to contribute to the team. But I was still lacking in some of the aspects of the game, so I had to redshirt."
The following year, Jacobson landed a spot in the Ute lineup, starting 27 games. His reputation for playing great basketball was noticed throughout the conference, earning him Freshman of the Year honors. Over the course of the season he buried 37 three-pointers, shooting 38.1 percent from long range. Jacobson not only made his mark from beyond the arc, but also from the free throw line. At one point in the season, he converted 32 consecutive free throws. For the season, he shot over 80 percent from the line.
"I worked really hard on my game, so it was a real compliment that I was able to play so much as a redshirt freshman," Jacobson boasts. "Even though I had not thought about the Freshman of the Year award during the season, it was a real honor for me to receive such recognition."
For this season, Jacobson's personal goals are taking a back door to the team's goals. "Everything is team oriented. If the team goals are taken care of, then the individual goals will be reached as well. Everybody looks good when the team looks good. We are all here to make this team win," he explains.
Jacobson's passion for basketball and winning was developed back in Fargo. His father, Tim, currently a high school basketball coach, played at Valley City State University in North Dakota and coached Jacobson in each of his four years of high school. His older brother, Jesse, played Division II basketball at St. Cloud State, while his sister, Sarah, played at Concordia College in Minnesota. Adam, his younger brother, is a freshman at Northern Iowa.
"It made for a lot of interesting two-on-two games when we were younger," Jacobson recalls. "We each have a little different style of play. My dad was great for me. He never made me play, instead he made it fun. He was there to help me anytime. He was a good coach, so it was an honor to be around and be able to play for him. He taught me the game well."
Off the court, he received the same type of support from his mother, Kim. "She learned to like basketball because everyone in the family was playing," says Jacobson. "She was always the lady behind the scenes who kept everything together. I talk to her a lot. If everyone turns their back on you, your mother never will, and I know that she's there to support me on the basketball court, in school and in life in general."
The support of his family helped him to achieve academic success as well, graduating high school with a 4.0 G.P.A. Since coming to Utah, Jacobson has continued to build on his academic success by becoming an honor roll student. "It is very important for me to get an education. That is the main reason why I'm here," he explains. "Basketball is great, but the education I'm getting will always be there for me to fall back on. I'd like to be successful someday, so school is important, but at the same time, I just want to take advantage of every day that comes along."
Out of the classroom and off the court, Jacobson's interests are very diverse. On summer days in back in Fargo, he loves to get outdoors and go fishing. Two years ago he took up skiing, and last summer he became interested in wake boarding. One of his main interests, though, is airplanes.
"I have always thought airplanes were interesting. It's amazing how fast they go, and the ability to fly is incredible. It's kind of a funny obsession, but I just enjoy everything about them. Maybe I can be pilot some day," tells Jacobson.
The 6-4 guard is hopeful it will be the Utes who are flying this season. As the team prepares for the stretch run through conference play, he is optimistic about the rest of the year. With Coach Majerus back on the sidelines and the team progressing from game to game, he is excited about what is in store for the remainder of the season.
"We are just going to have to take each game as it comes," explains Jacobson. "I definitely think this is a team that can have a good showing this year. Each game we learn more, and we're getting a better understanding of what it takes to win. We are putting a lot of emphasis on defense and that is what Utah basketball is all about. We have a lot of good players, and if we continue to play hard we can be a very good team."