Prep Basketball

Boys' basketball notes: Jacob King excels at lost art of free-throw shooting, leads NEIC in scoring

Senior guard shoots 93 percent from the line, averages 19.3 points a game

Jacob King, Oelwein Huskies
Jacob King, Oelwein Huskies

It’s just elementary math, really.

Three points beats two points. Three points beats one point.

That’s why so many kids camp out beyond the arc in today’s basketball. Shoot the long ball, baby, all day and all night.

Yet Oelwein’s Jacob King has become the Northeast Iowa Conference’s leading scorer thanks in part to a sort of refreshing old-school mentality. The senior guard can hit the 3-pointer, which is part of the reason he averages 19.3 points per game.

But the kid also is cash money with free throws, something that has kind of become a lost art.

“I agree with that,” he said. “People don’t usually focus on it, don’t really care about free throws. But it’s an important part of the game. Usually that’s what games come down to in the end. Toward the ends of games.

“When we come out of the locker room for the last time before games, I go to the line and shoot some free throws before I start shooting other shots. Before I shoot 3s or whatever. Then when it gets down to one minute left in warmups, I go back to the line and shoot one or two more before I go back to the team.”

King is among the state leaders in free-throw percentage at 93.3. He has made 56 of 60 attempts.

The 56 makes places him in the state’s top 20 in that category, with his percentage significantly better than all of the guys ahead of him. Anytime he gets fouled, those are basically free points for the Huskies.

“He’s definitely a very good free-throw shooter,” said Oelwein Coach Michael Mohlis. “He is a kid who has put in a lot of time with the game of basketball. His shooting form is the same every time, so he is very consistent that way. He works hard ... he takes pride in shooting the basketball well. It is something that has shown up in games, obviously, throughout his career and not just this year.”

King’s career free-throw percentage, by the way, is 89.6: 112 of 125. That’s good.

“I’ve had the same shooting routine, the same free-throw routine since middle school,” he said. “It hasn’t changed at all ... I take two dribbles, spin it and shoot it.”

As Oelwein’s main offensive weapon, the 6-footer has run the gamut when it comes to opposing defenses. The box-and-one, the double team, the faceguarding, he has seen it all.

It can get discouraging, for sure, which is why he has made a conscious effort to drive it more this season. Draw more fouls, get more free throws.

“Yeah, I’m aware of it, and teams know it, too, because they’re looking to slow me down,” he said, when asked if he knew he was the NEIC’s top scorer. “The same thing happened last year. We don’t have much to work with, so as long as teams shut me down, it’s hard for us to get going. I’ve gotten used to it, being the second year I’ve experienced it.

“It has been really frustrating. Been talking to my coaches about different ways to try and score or whatever. We’ve put in some sets to try and get me open more often. But, really, this year I have focused on setting more screens for others, so I can pop or slip or whatever to get open. And then driving it more.”

Oelwein went into Thursday night’s game against North Fayette Valley with a 4-9 record, though a six-game losing streak. The Huskies won just twice last season, so there is improvement here despite having a generally inexperienced team.

King is the only guy on the team who has started all 13 games. He will play college basketball somewhere, mentioning he has visited and gotten an offer from Dubuque, has gotten an offer from Mount Mercy and will visit there, Simpson and Cornell.

Someone is going to get a big-time shooter, again, especially from the free-throw line.

“You see kids warm up, and they go out to the 3-point line to shoot. Jacob is different that way,” Mohlis said. “He is a classic form-shoot, close-by-the-basket, work-his-way-out guy. When he walks in the gym, those are his first few shots always. He’s kind of an old-school mind of shooting, and free throws are a big part of it. And he’s a pretty good 3-point shooter, too.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Around the hoop

— North Linn’s Austin Hilmer picked up his 1,000th-career point this week. The junior guard leads Class 1A’s top-ranked team in scoring at 20 points per game. He will join his brother, Jake, at Upper Iowa University in a couple of years.

— Sticking with the Tri-Rivers Conference, Kaleb Cornilsen became the first player at Easton Valley to surpass 1,000 career points last week in a win over Bellevue Marquette. The senior forward is averaging 24.6 points and 8.1 rebounds this season for a team that also is undefeated and ranked fourth in 1A.

North Linn leads the state in scoring at 82.1 points per game, with Montezuma third at 77.4. North Linn also leads the state in fewest points allowed (34.4 ppg), with Monticello fourth (35.0).

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.