Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 | 2 a.m.
This local high school basketball player will take college recruiters off the beaten path this winter on the recruiting trail.
College coaches are a constant presence each season at local high school gyms in the Las Vegas Valley, mainly following the every move of the players from nationally ranked Bishop Gorman High and Findlay Prep.
They will also be at an unlikely place in the upcoming months — Desert Pines High School in northeast Las Vegas.
That’s because Desert Pines junior point guard Julian Jacobs might be the area’s top recruit for the class of 2013. Jacobs is part of the Sun’s Super Seven preseason team, joining four seniors from perennial power Bishop Gorman that are ranked as top-150 national recruits by Rivals.com, big man Michael Louder from Coronado High and Clark High guard Kentrell Washington.
When you consider the loaded rosters at Gorman and Findlay Prep — each of which are top-10 teams loaded with Division I recruits — it’s easy for 6-foot-3 Jacobs to get lost under the radar.
That is until he gets the ball in his hands, playing with confidence in organizing the offense and never afraid to take the ball to the basket.
“It’s all about having confidence in your abilities, and I have a pretty good feel for the game,” Jacobs said. “It seems like I know when to make the right decision. I like to get my teammates involved.”
In a showcase this fall that included players from Gorman and Findlay, Jacobs took control late in the game and finished with 15 points. For parts of the game, he was the best player on the court — playing alongside and against the likes of UNLV signee Katin Reinhardt, Gorman’s Ben Carter, Findlay Prep’s Anthony Bennett and a host of other blue-chip prospects.
It was easy to see why he has scholarship offers from Utah, Arizona State, St. Mary’s, Santa Clara, Cornell and Pepperdine.
“He has great basketball smarts. He’s a real intelligent kid who is always looking ahead,” said Desert Pines High coach Mike Uzan, who has been coaching Jacobs since he was in middle school. “He is so unselfish and just wants to make his teammates better. He has all of the potential to compete at a high level.”
Jacobs averaged 9.4 points and 4.6 assists per game last year while playing at Eldorado, coming on late in the season and nearly leading the Sundevils to the state championship. They lost to eventual state champion Canyon Springs in the Sunrise Regional title game.
While his team came up short, a star was born in Jacobs.
“During his sophomore season, he really started to develop and understand the game more,” Uzan said. “It was really about his commitment. Julian is talented. He can flat-out play. Once he started focusing in, that is when I saw Julian take the next step.”
The next step for Jacobs will likely include more looks from colleges. A three-star prospect on the Rivals evaluation scale of five stars, his stock is expected to further rise this winter.
That’s just fine with Jacobs — well, as long as his team enjoys similar success.
“I will do anything it takes to win,” he said. “I’m unselfish, but so are my teammates. We are in this together.”
Here are the rest of the members of the team:
Rosco Allen, senior forward, Bishop Gorman High
About Rosco: The 6-foot-9 Allen might be Gorman’s secret weapon. While most high school teams have just a handful of tall players, four in Gorman’s starting lineup are taller than 6-foot-6. That means the versatile Allen, who has signed with Stanford, will see plenty of action on the wing. He will likely be guarded by a significantly smaller player every night. “He is going to be able to take advantage of his size and shoot over defenders,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. Last year, Allen was ranked as one of the top 30 recruits for the class of 2012.
Rosco on the upcoming season: Allen, who averaged 13 points per game last year, knows he will be counted on down the stretch in leading Gorman to the state championship. Last year, they were upset in the semifinals. “We are prepared for all those teams to come after us. We expect it,” Allen said. “You can’t take any plays off.”
Ben Carter, senior post player, Bishop Gorman High
About Ben: The 6-foot-8 Carter, who signed with Oregon last month, went from a bench player during his sophomore season to one of the nation’s most sought after post-player recruits. He averaged 10.8 points per game last year, and on a team of several star players, became one of the unquestioned leaders. “Ben is a guy who does everything on the basketball court right,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “As a coach, you trust him with the ball in his hands. He really is a coach out there. He knows how to play the game and play it the right way.”
Ben on the upcoming season: Before Carter leaves for Oregon, Morant for UNLV, Allen for Stanford and Muhammad to wherever the top prospect selects, Carter plans on enjoying the final go-round with his longtime teammates and friends. “We have to play every game as if it’s our last,” he said.
Michael Louder, senior forward, Coronado High
About Michael: The improvements Louder made during the offseason were obvious during Coronado’s first scrimmage. The 6-foot-9 forward stepped behind the 3-point line and drained a pair of long-range shots, showing off a new mid-range game that makes him one of the Sunrise Region’s top players. He also remained solid on the interior with a few dunks in transition. It’s the complete player coach Jeff Kaufman has been molding the past few years. “He’s been much more aggressive this year in taking the ball to the basket,” Kaufman said. “He’s going to be tough to stop.”
Michael on the upcoming season: Coronado has added a pair of move-ins in 6-foot-11 center Lamar Walker from Michigan and 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man Raasheed Westbrook from Arkansas, helping take Louder’s game to the next level. In addition to giving him help on the interior, Louder now has equally big bodies to practice against. “We have a lot of length and size. It’s going to help us prepare to play some of the (state’s) better teams,” Louder said.
Demetris Morant, senior post player, Bishop Gorman High
About Demetris: The 6-foot-9 Morant, who last month signed with UNLV, is still very inexperienced after only playing competitively since his freshman year. But what he lacks offensively, he makes up for on the defensive end. He is constantly altering shots and grabbing big rebounds. And, when in transition, he is known for producing several highlight-reel dunks. “On the defensive end, you won’t find another guy in high school blocking shots or rebounds (like Morant),” Gorman coach Grant Rice said.
Demetris on the upcoming season: Morant is improving offensively everyday, but still is a work in progress — especially with his back to the basket. He averaged just 6.9 points per game last year, but will get more touches offensively thanks the improvements he’s made in the offseason. “I’m willing to put in the work,” he said. “I’ve had some success and that has made me hungry for more.” Based on potential, he had scholarship offers from the likes of Memphis and San Diego State before picking UNLV.
Shabazz Muhammad, senior forward, Bishop Gorman High
About Shabazz: The 6-foot-6 Muhammad is the nation’s consensus top prospect for the class of 2012 and arguably the most celebrated high school player in Las Vegas history. At Gorman, however, he’s just one part of the state’s best team and has his sights focused on winning a state championship — something the Gaels fell short of last year. “Everyone knows what a good player Shabazz is and how he can come in and take over a game,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “He is really becoming more of a complete player. He is doing everything to make his teammates better. He is sharing the basketball and is committed to winning. Winning (state) is very important to him.” Muhammad, who averaged 28 points per game last year, is a prized recruiting target of UNLV, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and several other elite schools.
Shabazz on the upcoming season: Muhammad will surely be the biggest attraction in town again this winter — college coaches, fans and even opposing players are seemingly in awe of his every move. He just doesn’t buy into the hype and continues to approach each challenge on the court with the mentality of an unproven player. It’s a philosophy that is contagious with teammates, a group of players he’s been around the past four years. “This is our last year playing together. We’re going to make it a good one,” Muhammad said.
Kentrell Washington, senior guard, Clark High
About Kentrell: Washington was one of the top players in the Southwest Division the past two years at Western, averaging 18.2 points per game as a junior and 20.6 per game as a sophomore. The point guard transferred to Clark in the off-season and has been an instant hit with his teammates. While he is a great scorer, he also takes pride in getting them involved in the offense — a rare pass-first point guard. “What makes him so good is his savvy. He has a real good basketball IQ,” Clark coach Chad Beet said. “He always finds ways to get others involved. They know he’ll get them the ball in the right spots. In the same league as power Bishop Gorman, Beet is optimistic his team will give the Gaels a stiff challenge. It all starts with his floor general.
Kentrell on the upcoming season: Washington doesn’t back down from the challenge of playing Gorman, knowing that to reach the Chargers’ ultimate goal of winning the state title includes getting past the powerhouse Gaels. “We are loaded. We are looking nice this year,” Washington said of Clark’s new-look team. “Our goal is to mainly beat Gorman, and then win the state championship.”