Jacobsen: Bigger than the numbers

SHAWN MINOR Sports Reporter

Filling up the statistics sheet isn’t the only way to be considered good for the team. That’s the case for South Dakota State University men’s basketball player Cory Jacobsen.

Jacobsen never once scored in double digits. He’s only scored two points all season. So, no, he’s not the best player on the team.

But he is the best teammate.

“You can ask any of the players and they’ll tell you,” Head Coach Scott Nagy said. “I guarantee you every single one of them would say Cory.”

 That’s pretty big praise for the fifth-year senior who has stuck with the team despite not being on scholarship and not playing in games.

“I have the utmost respect for him, because I couldn’t do it,” Nagy said. “My ego’s too big. His is not.”

In Jacobsen’s career, he’s totaled just 271 minutes and 59 points in his four years.

Jacobsen joined the team for the 2011-12 campaign as a redshirt, a time when walk-ons typically don’t travel with the team.

Jacobsen was the exception. In his first year he was already making a difference in practice with his energy and work ethic.

“Cory’s always traveled with us, because we need him there,” Nagy said.

Jacobsen recalls his redshirt year as one of the most memorable times of his life. The summer before he walked on to campus he suffered a setback, undergoing a microfracture surgery on his knee, but battled back through rehabilitation, which he credits the team’s former athletic trainer Owen Stanley for helping him through.

“As a walk on, I felt good about it because I knew I worked hard,” Jacobsen said. “There’s two things I can control: my attitude and how hard I work. And it paid off.”

In his first year at SDSU, the Jacks earned its first Summit League tournament championship and earned the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

“It was a great opportunity that was there and I took full advantage of it,” Jacobsen said.

Through basketball, Jacobsen has built long-lasting friendships as well, including former teammate Zach Horstman, who he roomed with in the dorms and still does today.

“He’s one of the funniest guys I know,” Horstman said. “He’s got a drier sense of humor.”

Horstman’s only minor qualm with Jacobsen has to do with some of his choice in television programs.

“He clogs up the DVR with reality shows and MTV stuff,” Horstman said.

But when it comes to Jacobsen’s value on the team, Horstman didn’t mince words.

“He doesn’t get a lot of credit that everyone else does,” Horstman said. “But he’s probably one of the best shooters on the team, if not the best.”

And Horstman would know—their friendship goes back to high school when they met playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) ball in the summer for the Dakota Schoolers, which features the top players from around the state.

Jacobsen grew up in Viborg, South Dakota, where he learned to love the game of basketball, thanks to his father, Dean, who also played for SDSU. Jacobsen’s mother, Sharon, also went to SDSU.

“My dad was a big role model. He did a lot of coaching in my younger years, so I always looked up to him,” Jacobsen said. “But my mom was also a good role model for her hard work and kindness. She was always there for support.”

He calls basketball his first love, but he also enjoyed baseball, track and football, and he was quite good.


Jacobsen earned several awards in high school for his athletic achievements in football, including the Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan Player of the Year honors.

He was more than just an athlete, too. Jacobsen excelled in the classroom as a four-year honor-roll student, and a two-year U.S. Army Reserve National Honor Scholar Athlete Award in 2010 and 2011.

So, as Jacobsen put his body through all that hard work in college, getting himself in great physical condition without playing much in games, it kind of makes sense that he became an exercise science major. He’s currently interning with SDSU’s strength and conditioning department and will graduate in May.

Over the summer Jacobsen lined up another strength and conditioning internship with Sanford in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and he’s contemplating pursuing his master’s degree.

Even though it might not mean getting all the press coverage on game days or consistently getting his name in the paper, Jacobsen wants younger kids to know that it’s OK to follow in his path.

“The hard work that you put in matters,” Jacobsen said. “Coaches see it and they respect it. So don’t get discouraged when times get tough and you’re not playing.”