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TRINITY — Since he was 8 years old, Mitchell guard Jake Driscoll has been the facilitator more than the go-to guy to score.
A Steve Nash fan growing up, Driscoll has mostly played point guard because of his high basketball IQ. But this season brought a new role for the 6-foot combo guard: handling the scoring load.
Last season, the junior scored a mere 12.2 points per game, but averaged a little more than five assists. This season, the Canadian native has more than doubled his scoring average to 24.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. Though his assists per game (4.4) may be down, Driscoll knows how important his new responsibility is to the Mustangs (6-4).
“I knew last year I was going to have to share the ball more with seven seniors,” Driscoll said. “This season I knew I would have to become a leader and score more baskets. I’m not going to be the most liked person because I’m scoring more points now, because everyone wants to score. My dad has really pushed me to become better.”
To that end, he has already attended a handful of camps, enjoying some surreal moments after meeting NBA superstars Nash and Vince Carter. And back at home, his father Darren, an assistant coach with Mitchell, just purchased a new universal gym set so he can continue his weight training and add on some needed muscle.
And having his father on the bench — where he has been through AAU seasons and now varsity — has been instrumental in Driscoll’s development.
“In offseason we really work on the weights a lot,” Darren Driscoll said. “I think the weights have really paid off for him. I’m pretty hard on Jake. Even when he has a 35-point night, I still like to point out the things that he could have done better.
“He has evolved immensely from 8 years old to now, and I couldn’t be any more proud as a parent.”
With the valuable seniors from last year now graduated — such as guards Chad Jeckel and Mike Francis, who combined to score 28.5 points per game — Driscoll has developed a scorer’s mentality. He has a superb midrange jump shot and an uncanny ability to get to the basket and draw fouls; he has already reached the free-throw line 94 times this season.
Possibly the only thing lacking in Driscoll’s game is his outside shooting. But Mitchell coach Jared St. Charles says that weakness is negated by his excellent court knowledge, and he still has one more year to improve his all-around game.
“Last year he had to facilitate a little bit more because he was my best ball handler,” St. Charles said. “He understands the game better than anyone I have had the past couple years. He knew this year coming back we needed his offense a little bit more, but in my mind he will always be a point guard. His best attribute is his great understanding of the game.
“There’s no doubt he can play in college. It’s fantastic that I have him for another year.”