LSC Defensive Player of the Year - Chandler Jacobs

Chandler Jacobs

Patriot guard Chandler Jacobs barked at his teammates to clear out in a late-game situation versus Midwestern State. DBU's deadliest player wanted to personally attack the perimeter defender, to capitalize on a mismatch that had him salivating at the thought of a critical bucket.

DBU, ranked no. 11 at the time, topped MSU in a 91-90 dogfight that became an instant classic. The night before featured a primetime slugfest in its own right, an 81-80 victory over the very same Mustangs squad as two points separated the 9-1 Patriots from becoming the 7-3 Patriots. 

The biggest reason DBU was able to capture last-minute victories on back-to-back nights is that the 2020-2021 Patriots are always ready for a fight.

The second biggest reason is Chandler Jacobs. The fourth-year Patriot is showcasing to the Lone Star Conference (and the entire country) what both himself and his teammates are capable of doing. At 16-3, DBU are currently in their tournament run with the Lone Star Conference. At 7.3 rebounds and 21 points per game on 58% shooting, Jacobs was at the forefront of conference Player of the Year considerations all year round, and on March 3 was named the LSC Defensive Player of the Year.

In addition to all of this, he was also named the LSC Academic Player of the Year, earning a cumulative 3.88 GPA as an accounting major, the first player in school history to earn that honor.

It's no surprise that the senior is compiling another dominant season. Opponents first learned to focus on Jacobs four years ago when he led the team in scoring to become the fifth Patriot in DBU history to earn Freshman of the Year honors. What is surprising, however, is the secret behind the Missouri City native's success. 

From an outsider's perspective, it would appear that Jacobs has something he wants to prove. A chip on his shoulder or some other explanation for the powerful rim-rocking slams and surgical three-point shooting (49.1%) he's brought to the court this season. 

The reality is quite the opposite. 

"I would most attribute my success to what's happening off the court," says Jacobs. "I am more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. This year in general, I have grown to love who I am as a person so much more." 

"I love who I've been created to be and truly believe my worth is found in Christ and not what I can or can't do for myself," continues Jacobs. "I have placed pressure on myself for as long as I can remember. I finally feel like I am enough, and that's been a help to me on the court."

The point guard's newfound self-contentment has freed him up in such a way that every part of his game is available to him at once. His signature slashing ability is now coupled with elite-level perimeter shooting. Jacobs uses his 185-pound frame to both harass opposing ballhandlers and bully his way to a team-high 138 rebounds.

The results speak for themselves.

Throughout conference play, Jacobs has clinched three Offensive Player of the Week titles, which are kept company by his two defensive selections. The Elkins High School product is dribbling through the program record books, ranking fourth in career three-pointers made (191), second in rebounds (592), and second in scoring (1,860).

While DBU Head Coach Blake Flickner is excited to see the physical components of Jacobs' game firing on all cylinders, he believes the veteran guard's mental approach is what makes him so dangerous.

"I've really seen him grow in his mental toughness over the years, how he handles adversity and adjusts to the flow of the game. He is a perfectionist, so he tends to be hard on himself. But as he's grown in his Christian faith and his maturity I feel like he's able to rest in who he is and that is helping his play," says Flickner.  

"He is so quick there is almost no one that can stay in front of him one on one," continues Flickner. "So then teams either have to concede him a layup, foul him, or help. When they help, they leave some of our guys open. Chandler has a lot of gravity that draws defenders toward him, and early on in his career, he did not always see those kicks. But he is now, and he's finding the open man. That's why it's good to have multiple shooters around a guy like Chandler because defenses can't help on him without giving up an open shot."

The national media is also taking notice. On January 12, Jacobs became the first player in University history to garner USBWA National Player of the Week honors. Seven days later, he became the first to do it twice.

 "There is no pressure with basketball anymore," adds Jacobs. "It's just fun."

There is, however, an important distinction that needs to be made when understanding Jacobs and his new approach to basketball. While the four-year guard has removed the weight of expectations from his shoulders, he refuses to compromise the effort he pours into his craft.

"He's a perfectionist. You can see it in his schoolwork and his play. He wants to get everything exactly right. He's a big Kobe Bryant fan and is meticulous in the way he trains as an athlete," says Coach Flickner.

Jacobs' perfectionism is most visible in his efficiency. The veteran guard ranks high among the LSC in field goal percentage (58.3%), free throw percentage (80.7%), and three-point percentage (49.1%). Even in one of his worst shooting performance of the season, he was still at 41% shooting and posted a perfect 6-of-6 effort from the charity stripe.

"If I take a shot, it's because I'm confident in it," states Jacobs. "There is no feeling of 'I hope this goes in.' I put a lot of work into these shots over the summer, so when I take them in games, I'm already comfortable with them."

DBU great Patrick Burke is not surprised by the performance - or the mentality - he's witnessing from his former teammate. The two played together during the 2017-2018 season while Burke was putting the finishing touches on his college career and Jacobs was just beginning his Patriot journey. 

"Chandler showed me he was going to be special from the very beginning. I remember one of our first practices together, he snapped at me because I wasn't going hard enough. You don't really see that from a new freshman to a senior. It speaks to his character and his work ethic. He doesn't care who you are; he's going to push you toward your best."

"He was my roommate at the conference tournament, and I remember him telling me he wanted to be the tournament MVP," continues Burke. "I knew then that Chandler had pretty ambitious goals and if he maintained that attitude he was destined to be great. He is always in the gym getting up extra shots. He's an absolute workhorse. I may be a little bias but I think he could be an All-American this season."  

Burke also playfully added that he, not Jacobs, ended up getting tournament MVP that year.

Jacobs - who leads the conference in points per game - is not doing so as DBU's only scoring option. The senior is reaching new offensive heights alongside freshman running mate Ricky Lujan (16.9 ppg), who was also named the LSC Freshman of the Year. The two of them coexist in a Patriot offense that now ranks among the best in the country at 86.9 ppg. 

Jacobs couldn't contain his excitement when talking about his new teammate: "Ricky is awesome, man. It's so cool to play alongside another score-first point guard. I told him the other day I compare us to Dame and CJ, like a 1A and 1B. Two scoring options that can do it all."

Throughout the season, Jacobs has shown Coach Flickner that his game is well-rounded enough to handle any role: "He's really stepped up for us.  He takes the challenge of guarding the other team's best player each night. He's developed into an all-around player who scores, rebounds, and focuses on making his teammates better." 

As they make their way through the LSC tournament and look forward to March Madness, DBU continues to fight its way through one-point games and climb the rankings amongst the conference elite, and the Patriots' expectations of success continue to grow.

Their star point guard, who refers to himself as an "old soul," has no such expectation; and both he - and his team - are better for it.

"I've always wanted to say basketball was something I did but not who I am," concludes Jacobs. "Regardless of accomplishments I want to be known as someone who helped others."

Written by Jay Attal

Jay Attal writes for the Athletics Department at Dallas Baptist University.