With Pateev gone (graduation) and Kenny Martin transferring at the end of last season, the 6'10" local Chandler Hamilton product is ready to play a bigger role in the 2013-14 season.
He bulked up this offseason and is sporting a large tattoo on his left shoulder. Needless to say, he is playing the part of the rugged big man, and one who should see a dramatic increase in minutes played.
Devils Digest caught up with the sophomore power forward/center for a candid interview:
Devils Digest: It looks like you trimmed down and added some muscle since last season. What kind strength/conditioning program did you perform this summer?
Eric Jacobsen: "I worked with Rich Wenner, our strength coach. We worked hard this offseason. I did a lot of weight lifting and just finished a pretty crazy conditioning program."
DD: Did the coaching staff have you concentrate on any particular skill(s) development in the offseason?
If so, what exactly?
EJ: "I worked on my all-around game. Offensively, I did work specifically on finishing better with contact. With the added strength, I think it's definitely better."
DD: How did you feel about the team's trip to China in August? Did it build good team rapport?
EJ: "Yeah, it was a lot of fun actually. It was a great time with all of my teammates and coaches. It was cool to travel with everyone. It did build a lot of chemistry with the guys."
DD: What was your personal highlight of the China trip?
EJ: "I would say my favorite part of the trip was seeing the Great Wall. That was pretty cool. I never thought I would see the Great Wall of China in my lifetime."
DD: Reflecting back on last year, was the most noticeable difference you experienced from high school basketball to college basketball?
EJ: "The speed and size of the opposing players. In high school, it's a whole different game. In college, you have to play against grown men. It was a great learning experience that will help me this season."
DD: There are a lot new faces on this year's roster. Has it been difficult to integrate all their new players into your system?
EJ: "I don't think so. We all get along very well. We all have each other's backs. I think everything will work out fine. We have a lot of weapons now with all the new players."
DD: Do you feel the frontcourt is thin with the departures of Ruslan Pateev and Kenny Martin?
EJ: "I think we'll still be solid. We have JB (Jordan Bachynski), a returning senior with a lot of experience. We have myself. And we have Richie (Edwards), who is an experienced post player as well. So, I think we'll be good."
DD: Being a local player, has that helped your transition to ASU? Or has it put more pressure on you (especially in regards to playing time)?
EJ: "Personally, I think it's been a lot easier. I didn't have to transition to a college in a new city. Of course, I know the area and a lot of people here. In regards to playing time last year, that was never a problem. I think playing time is a reflection of you as a player. It has to be earned."
DD: Based on the roster composition, it appears that you will have a bigger role this year (as Bachynski's primary backup). How are you approaching this increased role?
EJ: "I just work hard everyday. I don't put too much pressure on myself. I know I'm good enough to perform well. I just work hard and I think everything will take care of itself."
DD: What are your individual goals for this year?
EJ: "I just want to do whatever it takes to win games. That's all that really matters to me. I don't feel the need to score a lot. I'm prepared to do whatever is needed for the team."
DD: What about the team goals? What milestones do you hope for the team to accomplish?
EJ: "I want to go farther in the Pac-12 tournament and get an NCAA tournament bid. That would be the ultimate goal."