Kendall Jacks still stands 6-foot-4, but the Wayne State senior from Bettendorf is experiencing a growth spurt.
Jacks’ game has grown and evolved while working through his final season at the college level, mirroring the newfound success his team is currently enjoying.
“There is still a lot out there to play for, but this has been a big year, the type of season I was hoping for our team and for myself,’’ Jacks said. “It’s great to see it all come together the way it has.’’
Jacks has helped the Wildcats play their way to a share of the lead in the South Division of the Northern Sun Conference, scoring in double figures in every game Wayne State has played on its way to a 17-7 start.
He averages 16 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and is second on the team in assists and with an 83.6-percent touch from the free-throw line for the NCAA Division II program.
In addition to climbing into the top 25 on the Northern Sun career scoring list, Jacks moved into sixth place on Wayne State’s list over the weekend.
With his total of 1,511 career points, he has a realistic opportunity to reach third on that list by maintaining his current scoring average.
“The time has flown by, just like people told me it would, but in the five years I’ve been here I’ve grown as a person and a basketball player,’’ Jacks said.
There have been challenges along the way, each testing Jacks.
After starting as a true freshman on a seven-win team, he broke his foot one week before the start of his sophomore season and ultimately redshirted during a five-win season which led to the dismissal of the coach who had recruited him.
Wayne State won 10 games during his sophomore year and finished 14-17 a year ago before winning 10 of its first 11 games this season to position itself to earn a winning season.
“I’ve never once regretted my decision to come here. Everything that I’ve been through, I appreciate each day now more. It’s been a journey that has led me to this point,’’ Jacks said.
“Working my way back from the broken foot, it gave me time to think things through and re-commit to being the best player I can be. It made me realize that there are no guarantees and since that time, I’ve worked to up my game and make bigger strides.’’
Jacks said the obstacles have strengthened his resolve and motivated him to work to develop his skills to a higher level.
“I’ve always been able to get to the basket and I’ve always worked to rebound and defend, but I’ve spent a lot of time working to become a more consistent jump shooter,’’ Jacks said. “That’s been the biggest challenge for me, working to develop that jump shot.’’
Jacks sees growth in that area of his game, something that has helped him compete and is helping Wayne State succeed.
He sees development of consistency in his mid-range game as the next step in his development.
“That’s allowing me to expand my game and it’s something that I’ve put a lot of time in on,’’ he said. “It’s helping me compete and become a more versatile player. The coaches here have helped me a lot with it and I feel like it’s made a difference.’’
Jacks remains on schedule to graduate from Wayne State in May, majoring in speech communication with a minor in art.
He wants basketball to be a part of his future as well and plans to explore professional options overseas once his collegiate career concludes.
“For now, that’s where my energies are, making the last games I have at the college level the best they can be,’’ said Jacks, who recorded a career high with seven assists in a Friday game against St. Cloud State.
“My dream growing up was to be able to play college basketball and I want to help my team play as many games as we can this season. We’ve worked hard to get to this point and we don’t want it to end.’’
With Wayne State having its greatest success since the 1999-2000 season when Greg McDermott was coaching there, that is understandable.
“To have everything come together the way it has, we’re anxious to see where it all can lead,’’ Jacks said. “As a senior, it’s been everything I could have wanted.’’