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Is Michael Jacobson the X Factor for Iowa State?

A good Michael Jacobson could be the key to unlocking Iowa State’s ceiling

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Iowa State vs Ohio State Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

For the sake of full disclosure, there must be an admittance — Michael Jacobson may be my favorite player to watch on this team.

That isn’t to say he’s the best (Tyrese), the most electric (Jackson) or the most intriguing (Grill). In fact, if some sort of descriptor had to be assigned to him, he’d most likely be considered the most dynamic of the starting five.

A year ago, following the season ending injury to Solomon Young, Jacobson was forced to slide into the role that Young had previously been slotted into. Jacobson would start all games for the rest of the season in what would be considered a “small ball” five.

Although Michael stands at 6’9 and is the second tallest on the team behind only Conditt, Jacobson’s style of play isn’t as productive when limited to playing in the paint.

Last year in the 35 games played, Jacobson attempted 271 field goals and made 156 of those attempts. Last night in his first outing back in the forward position, he put up 13 attempts from the floor. If he continued at that pace, he would have 455 shot attempts on the season, maximizing his offensive potential.

In last night’s game against MVS, Michael had five tries from the arc, making three of those five. If kept at that clip (which it won’t, probably) he would fire 175 attempts from distance.

So in reality what do all these numbers mean for him going forward?

Suffice to say that after viewing even just that one game, it’s important to note that by freeing Jacobson up from the burden of having to play big in the paint against a defensive mismatch, him at his true position of forward is optimal for his senior campaign.

He no longer has to have the worry of playing backside/help side defense in the paint (or at least as much) and now is afforded the ability to pull his defender out of position and stretch the floor as an over sized forward rather than an undersized center.

Last season as the primary center, his main concern offensively was to set the high screen and roll to start the offense. As an off ball option this season, Jacobson has more chances to roll back door on a cut or to take his man inside/outside for a bucket. After just one game, his PER (Player Eefficency Rating) is double what his career average has been.

Jacobson’s untapped potential now as a scoring forward, (after one game, hes averaging almost three times his career average) rather than a big man in the paint helps to open up the passing lanes for the likes of Tyrese who showed last night exactly why he earned gold this last summer in the U19 Olympics.

With Haliburton being surrounded by three good shooters and a traditional style big man, which gives Tyrese major opportunities to continue to do things like this:

If Iowa State wants to reach the ceiling of what this team showed last night, Jacobson’s offensive output is going to be the key to that success. Maximizing him to the fullest extent (as shown last night) is what will help develop the younger guys around him.