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Acker played dual role for Pickens Academy


Adam Minichino



CARROLLTON, Ala. -- Scorers usually fit into one mold. 


While others will be asked to rebound and to focus on defense, scorers typically concentrate on filling it up and finding ways to get open and break defenses down. 


But Jacob Acker is different. 


Even though the Pickens Academy senior knew early in the season he would be expected to shoulder a large scoring load this season, his biggest success might have come in his ability to get his teammates involved. 


Acker''s ability to be a scorer and facilitator was a driving force behind Pickens Academy''s march to the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class AA state title game. 


Acker did everything he could to help the Pirates capture the crown, scoring 88 points in the final two games. Unfortunately, his career-high 46-point effort wasn''t enough to lift Pickens Academy past Evangel Christian Academy in an 81-71 loss Friday night. 


For his accomplishments, Acker is The Dispatch Prep Player of the Week. 


The 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior eclipsed his previous high of 44 by scoring 23 points in each half, including 19 free throw attempts. He faced off against five defenders and often was doubled teamed. He said the attention affected him in the second half when he tired. 


"I started feeling it a little bit, early, in the second quarter, I guess, when I hit a couple of shots," Acker said. "They were all physical and they played good defense. When I tried to drive they called hand checks just about every time. I got tired pretty quick." 


Acker said he knew he was the only returning player with a lot of experience, so he would have to assume a larger scoring role. He said he tried to balance that responsibility with a knack for getting his teammates involved. 


"It made it sort of easier when they keyed on me," Acker said. "Anytime I penetrated they always collapsed on me and there always an open guy to find for an easy basket." 


Acker said the willingness of players to fill roles and the team''s defense helped things come together. While disappointed the team couldn''t take the final step, he said he was proud of how far it came after an 0-3 start to the season. 


Acker also felt he didn''t shoot the ball as much and focused more on rebounding and doing other things to help the team get back on track after a sluggish beginning. 


Pickens Academy first-year coach Justin Thompson talked with Acker at the beginning of the season and stressed to him he needed to be someone who carried a big load. He said Acker emerged as a leader who took on that role and realized his teammates needed to be involved. 


"He has great vision and knows the game so well," Thompson said. "I knew Jacob growing up, and you could tell he was going to be a great basketball player. I think what helped him is playing a lot of AAU ball in the summer in Tuscaloosa. He was able to play against a lot of great players and to play against a lot of great competition. It allowed him to develop that skill set of being a great passer and learning to see the floor a lot better." 


Acker, who also plays on the football and baseball teams at the school, said he is considering options at Birmingham Southern, Huntingdon College (Ala.), Maryville College (Tenn.), and Spring Hill College (Ala.). He said he doesn''t have a front-runner and that he hopes to make a decision very soon. 


"I had good games and bad games, but down the stretch I thought I played pretty good," Acker said. "I was proud of the way I was able to get my teammates involved. It helped out a lot." 


Thompson said it was equally important that Acker accepted his role of more than a scorer. 


"Midway through the season you could see him emerge as the guy who everybody else looks to follow," Thompson said. "You could tell his teammates fed off him and he was able to do the right things at the right times, and it just steamrolled for us during the season. As he went, we went. I have ever seen a season like this in that he never had a bad game." 





Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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