Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Courtney Jacob

Courtney Jacob doesn't work in "I's." She works in "we's."

Even in winning the Naples Daily News Girls Basketball Player of the Year award, the Barron Collier senior guard makes absolutely sure to spread around the credit.

"I didn't win the state championship," she said. "We won the state championship. For everything to go to one person, that just isn't right. We're going to get all the excitement as a team."

It's that sense of team, that unselfishness almost to a fault, that made Jacob so valuable for four years. And that's what will make her so tough to replace.

"We have to find someone to replace the best player to come out of here so far," Barron coach Mike Hamburger said.

Jacob's gift was not dominance in one aspect of her game. It was that she could do everything at a high level. Could she score? Of course she could score. She averaged 16 points per game on a team where she regularly sat most of the second half, an observer to the end of a four-quarter rout.

Courtney Jacob

Photo by DAVID AHNTHOLZ, Daily News

Courtney Jacob

But there wasn't a spot on the court where she wasn't effective. The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 5.3 rebounds a game. She also averaged 3.6 assists, 4.0 steals and 1.5 blocks as well. She can run the floor, defend the perimeter and the post, distribute the ball and force turnovers.

The points are nice, but it's everything else that satisfies Jacob.

"Defense is what comes naturally for me," she said. "It doesn't really matter if I have good offensive night. Defense will make up for it."

And there were nights, especially in the Cougars' postseason run, when Jacob's offensive numbers weren't great. She scored only five points in the regional quarterfinals against Fort Lauderdale-Dillard. But she also had seven rebounds, seven steals, two blocks and two assists.

An eight-point game in the regional title game against Miami Jackson included seven rebounds, a steal and four assists. An eight-point game in the state semis against Largo included five rebounds, two steals and three assists.

"I've seen a lot of kids get negative when they struggle scoring and worry about how they're going to get their points," Hamburger said. "But all through that three-week playoff stretch, I never saw her down."

She capped her high school career with an MVP performance in the state title game versus nationally-ranked Winter Haven, another standout all-around performance – 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Now she's set her sights on college basketball, with the University of Tampa and Nova Southeastern University at the top of the list.

Regardless of the future, Jacob can look at her senior year with satisfaction. She loved leading her team, but loved being part of that team just as much.

"If people want to talk about what I can do, that's fine," she said. "But these things weren't done by just one person."

© 2006 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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