Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends" Series: Akron Great Joe Jakubick

    
April 28th, 2011
In the most recent installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Akron great Joe Jakubick, who is the school's all-time leading scorer. Jakubick, who also ranks second all-time in steals, is now the girls' basketball coach at St. Vincent's/St. Mary's High School in Akron.

Jon Teitel: Why did you choose to go to Akron? 

Joe Jakubick: When I was in high school they recruited me during my entire senior year. I had also been recruited by other mid-major schools in the area like Bowling Green and Youngstown State.  At the end of my senior season I was named MVP of the state all-star game, and after that I was highly recruited by schools like Ohio State and Wisconsin.  However Akron wanted me really bad, and I got the impression that I would be a significant part of their team.

JT: You were on the all-freshman team your first year, then was a three-time First Team All-OVC performer. How were you able to come in as a freshman and contribute from the start, and how were you able to continue to dominate throughout the rest of your college career? 

JJ: I was unsure what to expect during my freshman year, but I gained more confidence as I went along and matured a lot.  When I look back at some of my numbers, they are impressive but I was just trying to give my team a chance to win.

JT: In 1983 you scored a school-record 47 points vs. Murray State. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"? 

JJ: I shot well from the perimeter in that game (I think I made about seven three-point shots), but I had a few other 40+ point games where I felt I could have scored more if I had not missed so many free throws.  At the time Murray State was the best team in our conference.  I was sort of shocked that I even scored that many points: it was a very intense game.

JT: During the 1983-84 season you made a school-record 37 straight free throws. How were you able to maintain your focus for such a long stretch, and what is your secret for free throw shooting? 

JJ: One of my biggest disappointments is that I do not think I shot free throws as well as I should have.  I made about 80% from the line in college but was close to 90% in HS, where I once made about 47 in a row (including back-to-back game of 19-19 and 20-20!).  The physical nature of the college game takes so much more out of you.  As a coach now, I tell my players how I spent a lot of time in the gym each summer: I shot at least 200 free throws every day.  I remember a game in 5th grade where I missed a couple of free throws that cost us the game, so I wanted to prepare myself so that it would not happen again in the future.

JT: In 1984 you led the nation in scoring with an average of 30.1 points per game. Did you feel like you were one of the best players in the country? 

JJ: We opened up my sophomore year against Kentucky when they were #1 in the country.  I scored a team-high 23 points even though they kept rotating guys in to try and guard me, so that gave me a lot of confidence.  There are many skilled guys who can score a lot of points, but I did not go out and hoist up a lot of shots: I would post up, shoot from the perimeter, etc.  I am proud of my high shooting percentage.

JT: You were a three-time Honorable Mention All-American and a two-time conference Player of the Year. What did it mean to you to win such outstanding individual honors? 

JJ: I was disappointed that we did not win more games.  Looking back, I had a successful career individually, but I wanted to get into the NCAA Tournament.  During my junior year we made it to the conference tournament final but that was the closest I ever got.  It is a goal of any player who goes to college to play in the tournament.  I feel fortunate that I had a good career and it even helped pave the way for my job. 

JT: You graduated as the leading scorer in OVC history (and held the record for almost two decades until it was broken by Henry Domercant of Eastern Illinois in 2003). Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were? 

JJ: Honestly, I did not. I just looked at it as doing what my coach wanted me to do to help our team win.  Maybe it is the immaturity of college kids who are only focused on what they are doing right now.  I run into people even today who tell me that they remember watching me play and how good I was, but sometimes I am a little taken aback when I think about what I did.  I was very driven to win games, which helped drive me individually to be the best I could be.

JT: In the summer of 1984 you were drafted in the 7th round by Cleveland. Were you thrilled to realize your dream of making it to the NBA, disappointed that you did not get selected earlier, or other? 

JJ: I was disappointed, as I had played well against other college seniors like John Paxson, Tony Campbell, etc.  I think a lot of it is timing. I played in a college all-star game during the Final Four, which might have hurt me more than helped me.  I felt that I should have been drafted higher, but it was a great learning experience and I feel fortunate that I got to play ball and get a free education.  As a coach now, I can help kids try to realize their own dreams.

JT: You currently coach the girls' basketball team at St. Vincent-St. Mary's (LeBron James' alma mater), and you also work for a power company. Which job do you like more, and what do you hope to do in the future? 

JJ: I am an account manager at a power company and enjoy it but my true passion has always been basketball.  Whether it goes any further (like coaching in college) is something that I would really enjoy.

JT: When people look back on your career how do you want to be remembered the most? 

JJ: I hope they say that I was an all-around player who worked really hard.  Some people might think that I just shot a lot, but I also rank high on the lists for the school's career records in assists and steals.  

Jakubick is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in MAC history.

Akron: Joe Jakubick (1984) 2583 PTS (#1), 189 STL (#2), 50.9 FG% (#1), 3-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
Ball State: Bonzi Wells (1998) 2485 PTS (#1), 843 REB (#4), 386 AST (#5), 347 STL (#1), 2-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
Bowling Green: Antonio Daniels (1997) 1792 PTS (#4), 563 AST (#2), 162 STL (#5), All-American, conference POY
Buffalo: Turner Battle (2005) 1414 PTS (#5), 458 AST (#3), 170 STL (#5), 126 3PM (#4), All-American, conference POY
Central Michigan: Dan Majerle (1988) 2055 PTS (#2), 834 REB (#5), 171 STL (#3), 95 BLK (#5)
Eastern Michigan: Kennedy McIntosh (1971) 2219 PTS (#1), 1426 REB (#1), All-American
Kent State: Trevor Huffman (2002) 1820 PTS (#1), 520 AST (#3), 80.5 FT% (#4), 210 3PM (#1)
Miami (OH): Ron Harper (1986) 2377 PTS (#1), 1119 REB (#1), 287 STL (#1), 173 BLK (#1), 53.4 FG% (#3), All-American, 2-time conference POY
Northern Illinois: TJ Lux (2000) 1996 PTS (#1), 1110 REB (#1), 130 STL (#5), 156 BLK (#3)
Ohio: Gary Trent (1995) 2108 PTS (#3), 1050 REB (#2), 105 BLK (#5), 57.3 FG% (#3), All-American, 3-time conference POY
Toledo: Ken Epperson (1985) 2016 PTS (#1), 960 REB (#1), 55.5 FG% (#4)
Western Michigan: David Kool (2010) 2122 PTS (#1), 163 STL (#5), 231 3PM (#2), 89 FT% (#2), All-American, conference POY