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•The major college basketball season begins this week and to get you ready we are publishing a 16-page special section. Packed with features, columns, scheudles and team capsules, the section will examine the Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and IPFW men’s and women’s teams.

IPFW swingman works hard to be scoring specialist

Jacobo

– “So how many shots?” the visitor asks him. “You know, ballpark.”

And IPFW swingman Luis Jacobo looks around the Gates Center, at the empty gleaming floor and the new videoboards and the bleachers that have been pushed up against the wall to clear space for practice. And for a second – not much more – he thinks about how much time he’s spent here since coming north a year ago as a 6-foot-5 junior college standout at College of Central Florida, how many hours and parts of hours and sometimes minutes squeezed between classes.

It’s all a blur.

“I can’t even count,” he says.

And then he thinks some more.

“Obviously we get up a lot of shots in practice, but on my own time it could be … probably in a day, on the average, just 500 between classes,” he says. “If you add up a lot of time on the weekends it could add up to like 1,000 all throughout the week.”

So, a lot, then. It’s what a guy does who says shooting was never his strong suit coming up, that it’s something he’s only gotten better at in the last year or so.

“When I saw him play live a couple times, we did not have him pegged as a shooter specialist,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick says. “But he’s a guy that can make shots and can really score the ball. And I think he can do more than that.”

He will have to. Without fellow Floridian Frank Gaines, it falls to Jacobo to be one of those who picks up the slack for Gaines’ departed 19.8 ppg.

Jacobo made the Summit League All-Newcomer team last season as the only IPFW player to start all 33 games. He averaged 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds and shot 42 percent.

And he was the team’s top three-point shooter, making a team-high 68 and shooting 38.6 percent.

And, according to Jacobo and those around him, it was all self-made.

“I wasn’t always a good shooter,” says Jacobo, who hails from Sanford, Fla., and is one of five players from Florida with the Mastodons this year. “I couldn’t shoot probably until my sophomore year of college; I was more trying to get to the basket, drawing fouls.”

But then he came to IPFW, he says, and the coaches worked with him.

And he got in the gym. And got in the gym, and got in the gym.

“He was one of the guys who spent the most time in the gym this summer,” Jasick says. “He’s a guy that loves to work on his game and wants to get better, so he’s definitely put the time in.”

And if time is an investment that pays off, the Mastodons will reap some rewards. Jacobo emerged as one of the team’s go-to offensive threats, scoring in double digits 20 times and hitting five threes against Navy, North Dakota State and Oakland.

And this year?

“I feel like coach is trying to move me more into a leadership position,” he says. “Mainly leading by example. I’m not a big talker. I’m more of a lead by example so I feel like I can be good at that.”

Jasick is counting on it.

“You would hope,” he says. “He’s been around a couple years and he’s had some success, and our younger guys kind of look at him in a leadership role because of that. But I think we’ve got a handful of guys who are in a leadership situation where you look at how their teammates view them, the success they’ve had on the floor, the way they take care of business.”

That was Jacobo right from the jump.

“He was a big, strong, wing that could play multiple positions for us, that could score the ball, from just a purely basketball standpoint,” Jasick says.

“And then when you got to spend time with him as a person, he was a great guy, good personality, good teammate. So he kind of fit what we’re trying to do.”

bensmith@jg.net

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