Jake Beitinger: Zags go after tough big man

"Definitely Gonzaga," was how star South Kitsap big man Jake Beitinger put it when asked who was recruiting him hard. Meet the 6'8" Power Forward who has the Zag program so interested in him. (photo courtesy of Bill Nance)

How tough is South Kitsap star big man Jake Beitinger? A few years ago he took up boxing and dealt out more than his share of bloody noses and pain. After trying T-Ball, soccer, football and baseball, the 6'8" Beitinger realized basketball was his true love. No matter what other sport he tried, hoops kept beckoning. His biggest growth spurt came in 7th- and 8th-grade where he grew from 6' to 6'4". Since then he's added an inch a year but admits, "I think I'm slowing down now."

Now Jake has schools like Gonzaga, Utah, USC, UCSB, Washington, Oregon and others writing him and watching him with extreme interest. Several want him to take unofficial visits to see campuses and play in pickup games. His recruitment promises to be a battle and with the way he is improving it'll only become more intense.

Beitinger first picked up a basketball when he was barely able to lift one. When he entered sixth-grade he began playing organized ball. But living in the small community of Port Orchard had one drawback: he wasn't aware of the AAU teams across Puget Sound in Seattle, teams that played all spring and summer across the country. So his first national exposure came just this past summer of 2002 after his sophomore year.

Needless to say, he immediately opened eyes and caught the attention of high majors.

Under the tutelage of Emerald City Basketball Academy's Jason Baskett, Jake has incorporated a variety of post moves and shots, and has expanded his shooting range to the arc. "I like to rebound," he says, and he spends a good deal of time in the weight room. Last season (2002) at the Washington State 4A Tournament, future Zag Adam Morrison's Mead team was knocked out of the winners bracket by Beitinger's South Kitsap squad and Adam remembers how Jake almost single handedly beat them, especially on the boards.

He dominated and although South Kitsap fell short of a title, Beitinger made the All-Tournament Team.

A dedicated baller, Jake often takes the ferry to Seattle where he'll either work on his game all day before returning home that night, or he'll stay the night with Coach Baskett.

Asked what he's looking for in a college, the 3.8 student-athlete says that basketball tradition is very important, a tradition of going to the NCAA Tournament every year. Also, a quality academic institution is important to him, along with how quality the coaching is and how he fits in with the players. Jake also reads everything he can about coaches, including several books.

A major target of Gonzaga, Jake Beitinger will be sought after to help replace 2002-03 Wooden Award Candidate Forward Cory Violette and Center Richard Fox when they graduate.

Jake credits his mom and dad for influencing his life off-court and Jason Baskett for his on-court skills.

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