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October 9, 2013
Julian Jacobs didn't have the abundance of media recognition coming out of high school that many Pac-12 recruits do, but the freshman point guard has made quite the impression already at USC.
He's doing well enough that neither coaches nor players will predict a starter at that position, even with Pe'Shon Howard and Chass Bryan on the roster.
Jacobs is excited by his performance so far and believes he's on track to contribute early in the season.
"I feel like everyday I'm improving more and making the transition," Jacobs said. "I definitely think I'm going to be ready to play by the time the season starts because coach's system is easy to learn.
"I'm not where I want to be right now, but I'm improving everyday and by the time the season starts, I think I'll be where I want to be."
The freshman point guard doesn't mind what his role is, he just wants to help the Trojans be the best they can be.
"I haven't really sat down and had a conversation with anybody about what I'm expected to do or a specific role," he said. "I just know that whenever my name is called, I'll be ready. Whether that's coming off the bench, possibly starting, or whatever it may be. If I'm starting or if Pe'Shon or Chass needs a back up, I'm there."
Walking into a situation with new coaches and a deep back court, Jacobs didn't know what to expect, so hard work became his focus.
"I didn't know what to expect because of the coaching change, but I knew I would play hard and thought I would make my way on the court somehow, to contribute in some way," Jacobs said. "Coming in, I just wanted to play hard, play defense, and I hope that will allow me to find some time on the court."
He'll have to adjust to the college game before he can contribute in games, but many of those adjustments are about being more disciplined off the court.
"Waking up every morning and getting rest whenever you can has been an adjustment," he said. "It's definitely a struggle between class and practice, you have to stick to a strict regime. You have to know when it's okay to go out and when it's not.
"Preserving your body is key. On the court, you have to make decisions a lot faster. Obviously in high school, you can get away with a lot of stuff. In college, you have to focus every single play and you can't take plays off."
The position of point guard is also a bit more difficult to manage at a division one college.
"Points guards have to know every position and that's what I've been struggling with," Jacobs said. "Knowing where everyone should be at all times. I wouldn't say it's harder in this system I would say it's easier because you're just getting out there and running because you want to push it, and I think we have the guys to do it and be successful."
It does help that his alma mater, Desert Pines High School, runs a system like the one that Andy Enfield is using at USC.
"It's definitely similar to my high school system," he said. "It's run and gun, try to score in the first ten to twelve-seconds, but we never had size like Omar, so that's nice."
Luckily, throwing the ball to a 7-foot centers is an easier adjustment than getting in shape for an up and down style of play. That's how the Desert Pines' run and gun system prepared him for college.
"It really helped with conditioning," Jacobs said. "I'm in a lot better shape than I thought I would be, I thought it was going to be brutal but that style of play kinda carried over."
Although most of his teammates played in a half-court system last year, Jacobs believes that everyone is starting to feel comfortable and confident in what they're doing. There's ball movement, a dedication to running offensive sets, and hustle up and down the court. According to the freshman point guard, this system is tailored better to USC's roster.
"Last year didn't really make a clear representation of the talent we had because I don't think the guys were in the right system. I think a lot of these guys could definitely play at the next level. I think it'll be to our advantage because many people really underestimate USC, but we have guys that can just play, flat out. It's about us getting on one page and in sync, and then I think we'll be really good."