Lumberjacks striving for success in 2017-18

Jacobs ready to begin first year as ACC men’s basketball coach

Courtesy Photo The 2017-18 Alpena Community College men’s basketball team is from front, left to right:Azaiyah Bell, Oliver Rice, Jameson Pierrelus, Michael Stuart, Dylan Tucker, Juwan Carlton, Dedric Hendricks. Back, left to right: Coach Mark Jacobs, Elijah Harris, Keaton Brewer, Oronde Bynam, Tristan Smith, Demarcion Chilton, Camren DeCaire

For the first time in 50 years, the Alpena Community College men’s basketball team will be led onto the court by a new head coach. Mark Jacobs will begin his first season as the Lumberjacks head man during the 2017-2018 season.

“My goal is to build a strong culture of hard work. Our number one goal is to become men daily. We want to be better today than we were yesterday and be better tomorrow than we were today, both on and off the court,” Jacobs said. “We have some solid men on this team. My goal is to be competitive, work hard and leave it all on the court.”

Jacobs takes over a program that has struggled over the past few seasons. The Lumberjacks won just a single game last season and have an overall record of 5-40 over the last two years.

Despite the struggles, Jacobs has done his part recruiting a team that will be full of talent in order to flip the script and rebound after several disappointing seasons for the program.

The Lumberjacks return just three players from a season ago. Jameson Pierrelus (Stuart, FL), Michael Stuart (Port St. Lucie, FL) and Dylan Tucker (Alpena) are back for their sophomore seasons to captain Jacobs’ rejuvenated ACC team. The three will be relied heavily upon for their play and leadership.

Along with the three returners, the Lumberjacks feature 10 other players that make up this years ACC roster. Jacobs did a tremendous job luring in some of the area’s top talent. Freshmen Azaiyah Bell (Whittemore-Prescott), Oliver Rice (Hale), Keaton Brewer (Onaway) and Cam DeCaire (Alpena) were among the top high school players in the area a season ago and have now traded in their school colors for burgundy and white to play for ACC.

Jacobs also was able to recruit top tier talent from around the state in Elijah Harris (Union City), Oronde Bynum (Bloomfield Hills), Juwan Carlton (Big Rapids), Dedric Hendricks (Flint), Demarcion Chilton (Flint) and Tristan Smith (Gaylord).

“We are going to press on defense. We’re going to work hard and outwork our opponents. My guys are in shape and they are getting in better shape daily,” Jacobs said. “Offensively we’re going run and run the motion offense that features a lot of picking and passing. My goal is to get up and down the court, play tough defense and score quick. We have a lot of good shooters on our team and we’re going to make up for a lack of size with hustle.”

Harris is a strong guard who will see time at the two and three this season. Harris is physically strong and is a good outside shooter.

Stuart returns after being one of top free throw shooters in the nation a season ago. Stuart is quick guard and will again be a key piece to ACC’s success with his ability to shoot the three ball.

Hendricks joins the Lumberjacks after playing at Combine Academy last year in Orlando. Hendricks is a phenomenal ball handler and will run the point and get his teammates involved.

Pierrelus may be the teams top returner at 6-5, 205. Pierrelus will start the season playing underneath the basket.

Rice is a good shooter who will also spend time at a guard position.

Bell is currently being slowed by a back injury, but shouldn’t miss a substantial amount of time. Bell is a quick guard who can shoot from outside the three point line and the Lumberjacks will need Bell’s quickness on defense.

Tucker suffered a broken foot, but recently returned and will be needed to step up as one of the teams few second year players.

DeCaire is an outstanding outside shooter and continues to improve his game who the Lumberjacks will rely heavily on at time for his ability to come off the bench and shoot the ball.

Chilton brings a hard-working edge to this years Lumberjack squad and will play underneath the hoop.

Brewer will start the season at the four and five due to ACC’s lack of big men down throw. Brewer will likely see time all over the court because of his ability to shoot from beyond the three point line.

Smith is coming off of a knee injury and is an excellent passer for a big guy who the team will depend on to rip down rebounds.

“The nice thing about these guys is that almost every single one of these kids were the best player on their high school team. From there, it’s just trying to find what everyone’s strengths are and play with their strengths and work on their weaknesses. The guys gel well together and that’s huge,” Jacobs. “Early on I’m going to play a lot of guys and am comfortable running 10 deep. It’s huge to be able to have that luxury and play so many guys at different positions. I can’t tell you how good we are going to be, I just know we are going to work hard.”

It will not be Jacobs’ first time coaching an ACC team as he has spent the past six years as the Lumberjacks cross country coach. Over time, Jacobs has turned the cross country program around and he hopes to do the same with another ACC program.

“It is a process. As long as we improve daily, we can get there. I’m confident that I can make some adjustments as the season goes on and believe guys have bought into my system,” Jacobs said. “I take this very serious. It will be a fun season if these kids continue to buy into my system, work hard and continue to want to be apart of a team. Right now the chemistry is great and I hope that continues, because that’s key to a winning program.”