AAU season sets Jacobsen up for success
Last winter, Max Jacobsen was one of the leading scorers in the Three Rivers League and he was one of the most dominant posts in the state.
But when the 2008-09 season starts in a few months, Jacobsen could be poised to take his game to an entirely different level.
Over the summer, Jacobsen was virtually unstoppable for his AAU team, the Oregon Legends.
The incoming senior averaged nearly 25 points a game and well over 10 rebounds against some top competition from around the nation.
His efforts culminated in two terrific tournament finishes to close out the season. Jacobsen's team, the Oregon Lords, which has been playing together for four years, made the Sweet 16 in Las Vegas and made the final four in Los Angeles.
In those events, the Lords often took on teams that were almost entirely made up of Division I players.
'I thought we played really well. Things clicked for us this year. All of the players on the team get along really well,' Jacobsen said.
In the Platinum Level of the Las Vegas Tournament, the Lords rolled to four straight victories, before falling 78-71 to a loaded Houston Hoops team that has nine Division I players.
In that game, Jacobsen exploded for 31 points.
'It didn't matter. The bigger the game, the better he played. He didn't take a game off all summer,' Cates said.
Then, in Los Angeles, after suffering an opening round loss, the Lords won five straight times with each winning coming by double digits.
Then, in the semifinals, the Lords were upended by the team that would ultimately win the championship 61-58.
Over the past few months Jacobsen has made dramatic improvements to his already solid game.
The biggest step that Jacobsen has taken since last winter has been his aggressiveness around the basket.
'I have to have that attitude. I really tried to attack the rim and not be afraid to go up against anyone,' Jacobsen said.
And not only can Jacobsen score from close range, but he has developed a lethal three-point shot to go along with his high free throw percentage.
Cates, who has coached Jacobsen on his AAU team for four years now, was most impressed with Jacobsen's work ethic.
'He spent hours in the gym and now he's a new guy,' Cates said.
Jacobsen's long summer which featured thousands of miles of traveling and weeks at a time away from home is now over and while he will receive a respite from competition for a few months, he will continue to work out and build up strength before the winter.
When the high school season gets under way this winter, Jacobsen will be the unquestioned leader on what should shape up to be another strong Laker team, one that narrowly missed out on making a return trip to the state tournament last season.
The Three Rivers League could turn out to be one of the most unpredictable leagues in the state next year.
While Lake Oswego returns a strong core, Oregon City, despite graduating two Division I players, should still be formidable while Lakeridge, Clackamas and Putnam could be threatening as well.
Thanks in large part to his strong summer, Jacobsen is receiving numerous looks from Division I colleges, the majority of which are on the West Coast.
'It's pretty cool. I never would have imagined it,' Jacobsen said.
And while the prospect of playing college basketball is exciting, he is focused on his senior year and in helping Lake Oswego to another strong season.
'I think summer ball helped me out and now I want to help my team win a state title. I'm ready to step up and be a leader,' Jacobsen said.