With the weekend commitment of Markese Jacobs to Kansas and his brother, Demarius Jacobs, committing to Southern Illinois on Wednesday, the light is shining bright on the Uplift basketball program.
Markese Jacobs was a freshman sensation last season, averaging 15.7 points a game while showcasing dazzling speed in the open court and explosiveness off the floor. He continued to raise his profile and stock on the AAU circuit, where Kansas became enamored and offered the 5-10 point guard in July.
Demarius Jacobs played a small part on Uplift’s 2015 state championship team before blossoming as a junior last season, averaging a team-leading 19 points a game. He picked up Division I interest and offers with his play and emerged as a mid-major prospect.
The highly-athletic Jacobs gave an ultra-early commitment to coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks while on his unofficial visit this past weekend, calling Kansas his “dream school” and that he could “see and feel the passion” of Jayhawks basketball.
Uplift coach David Taylor said he understood the decision for the very early commitment, saying, “It’s not every day Kansas comes calling.”
Taylor also knows what this type of notoriety can do for his own basketball program.
“Obviously, it’s an awesome marketing chip,” Taylor says of having a player at Uplift committing to a “Blue Blood” program like Kansas. “You would have to believe it would attract families to the program. We are proud of what we’ve built at Uplift in that the program has been recognized for winning and having good players.”
Now Taylor has a player headed to a high-major powerhouse and another to a quality Missouri Valley Conference school.
The uptick in talent leads to success, but it’s also an indicator of how far the program has come and what it can be going forward. In addition, it’s a legit basketball option for serious hoop-playing student-athletes on Chicago’s North Side.
While Taylor’s program did garner headlines when Uplift won a Class 2A state championship two years ago, this year’s preseason expectations are as high as they’ve ever been.
Although it’s still early October, Taylor is excited about the opportunity to coach this group, which includes the high-profile Jacobs brothers and several potential breakout performers among the supporting cast, including 6-4 junior Toraze Dobbs.
“I’m a basketball coach and a basketball guy, so I’m extremely excited,” says Taylor of the upcoming season. “I want to see how good we can be, and I think we are all anxious to get started. You don’t want to keep the Porsche in the garage forever.”
Uplift is not only a Class 2A threat again, the Titans are a legitimate city contender.
“There are no guarantees,” says Taylor “But we feel like from a competitive standpoint that we will be able to compete with anyone we could potentially face this season. I think that is really the first time we’ve been able to say that.”
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