01/28/11 — Decision to move has paid off Princeton's senior standout

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Decision to move has paid off Princeton's senior standout

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 28, 2011 1:47 PM

Ben Jacobs has only been at Princeton since the beginning of the school year, but he is already feeling right at home.

Always the object of the loudest ovation during the announcement of the starting lineups, Jacobs has become accustomed to being the main attraction when the Bulldawgs hit the hardwood. In front of packed gyms, rival prep coaches and scores of college recruiters Jacobs has put up eye-popping numbers and delivered a 17-0 start for his new school.

"I really like it here and I feel like this team has what it takes to play a long way into the state playoffs," Jacobs said before a recent game. "There were definitely some nervous moments when I decided to come to Princeton, but so far it has really worked out great."

Jacobs built a reputation as one of the best players in eastern North Carolina over the past three seasons at West Johnston High School. Going in to his senior season, Jacobs decided that he would like the opportunity to play with his father, John, and his younger brother, Austin, in Princeton.

John coaches the junior varsity basketball team at the school and Austin is a freshman forward on the varsity squad.

"It was hard to leave all the people I knew at West Johnston and all the guys I had played with," said Ben Jacobs. "But I knew some people here at Princeton through my brother and my dad, so it made things a little easier."

And thus far in the Dawgs' 2010-11 campaign, Jacobs has made things look easy. He's averaged a double-double -- 28 points, 12 rebounds -- through the first 17 games.

Jacobs' exploits have included a 20-rebound performance as well as a string of six consecutive games with at least 30 points that extended from Dec. 20, 2010 to Jan. 21, 2011.

"Ben has unbelievable offensive skills, but what makes him great is his ability to put what's best for the team first," said Princeton head coach Jeff Davis. "He is so tough to guard man-to-man and if teams try to double team him, Ben is more than willing to pass off and find an open shooter."

The Bulldawgs' offense has reaped the rewards of Jacobs' ability to hit open teammates. Princeton is averaging 76 points per game -- the highest scoring average of any team in the News-Argus readership area. The Dawgs have won their four Carolina 1-A Conference games an average of 21 points per game.

Unwilling to take any of the credit, Jacobs is quick to point the spotlight at his coach and his teammates.

"I think (the offense) is product of having a group of guys that all contribute and all do different things well," said Jacobs. "Coach Davis is a fun guy and he likes to joke around, but when the game starts he expects us to be able execute."

Several opposing coaches have marveled at Princeton's offensive efficiency this season. Rosewood's Daniel Mitchell saw the machine at work on Monday night in a 78-48 defeat.

"You have to give them a lot of credit because they have a team of guys that get the job done," said Mitchell. "(Wes) Wood is a great shooter and (C.J.) Jeffreys makes a lot of things happen off the dribble, which makes it hard because if you focus too much on Jacobs the other guys can beat you."

Coaches from the collegiate ranks are starting to focus on Jacobs as well.

So far the senior has scholarship offers from Wingate, Mount Olive and UNC Pembroke. The U.S. Naval Academy and UNC-Asheville have also shown interest in Jacobs. Not willing to tip his hand, Jacobs has made it clear that he is going to wait to make a decision about his future until after the high school season ends.

"All of the attention has been great, really the whole process has been fun," said Jacobs. "When I get into the game I don't see the fans, or the recruiters or the coaches. I just try to block that out until after the game."

Princeton entertains Spring Creek tonight.