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Late addition: last-minute recruit looks to make impact for Drake

Story by Ashley Beall

Jacob Jensen is not your typical freshman. Not only is he from Denmark, but he also stands at 6-foot-11. This marks his first year as a member of the Drake  men’s basketball team.

“Todd Townsend, my assistant, had spoken with a number of different people overseas and through those connections, Jacob’s name came up,” said head men’s basketball coach Ray Giacoletti. “Todd was the one who really did the digging and tried to figure out how to get a hold of him.”

Toward the last week of July, Giacoletti got to see tape of Jensen playing and Townsend was able to go see Jensen play as a member of the national team in Denmark.

After discussing with him the opportunity to play at Drake, Jensen made the decision to move to America and become a member of the Drake basketball team.

“I really liked the coaching staff here, and from what I heard, it was a great set up,” Jensen said.

“The coaches were going to invest time in me and support me and help me develop my game. I had also heard good things about the players here, and that’s important to me because I want to play on a team that I like to be around.”

Jensen’s commitment to the team came rather last minute, and he wasn’t able to visit Drake before arriving in the fall. He had to be cleared academically and by the NCAA for his amateurism status, which didn’t leave enough time for Jensen to make to the trip to Iowa. “It’s a crazy story. I’ve done this for 29 years, and we’ve recruited a lot of foreign players, but Jacob is someone who has a pretty bright future, and that’s usually not the way it happens, especially that late, very rarely,” Giacoletti said.

After coming off a disappointing season last year, the team is looking to gain some footing in the Missouri Valley Conference, and Jensen is going to play a big role in that goal.

“I think Jacob is going to be a big piece of the puzzle for the future of this program. Like I said, we’ve had a bunch of foreign kids over the years, especially big kids, but I think this year is going to be a year of learning experience and after he gets through this year, he’s going to grow a lot this year, but after this year, I think he has a chance to be very good for the next three years after this,” Giacoletti said.

Jensen’s teammates are also looking to him for a big impact this season.

“He’s been adjusting really well, he has a high basketball IQ, and he’s coming along just fine,” said senior Richard Carter. “Jacob and Seth can both score the ball low post, and Jacob’s really long and active, and that will help on the defensive end as well.”

As far as adjusting to Iowa, Jensen had a rough time at the beginning.

“It was kind of slow in the start, I had a tough time getting used to the food, the people and just the way of being American,” Jensen said. “The biggest difference is the way people communicate, I think. Over here, it’s more, ‘Hey, how are you, I’m fine. How are you?’ and in Denmark it’s more like ‘hey’ and that’s kind of it. You would talk to people if you wanted to, but you don’t engage in small conversation, so that was kind of tough getting used to because I felt like I had to answer people, and that was kind of hard.”

Overall, Jensen is ready for the season to start and to start helping the team compete this season.

“I just want to be the best that I can be. I want to deliver what I can to the team and just put effort into it and see where it takes us,” Jensen said.

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