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For Bison senior A.J. Jacobson 'it's been a good ride'

NDSU senior A.J. Jacobson drives to the basket past Western Ilinois' Isaac Johnson on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2018, at the Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. David Samson / Forum News Service1 / 2
NDSU senior A.J. Jacobson drives to the basket against Mayville State's Taylor Delaughter on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, at the Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. David Samson / Forum News Service2 / 2

FARGO—It was four years ago about this time when true freshman A.J. Jacobson was watching six North Dakota State University players give their Senior Day speeches, a final-home-game ritual that at times can get emotional.

At some point late Saturday afternoon, Feb.17, it will be Jacobson's turn. This week, he's somewhat in disbelief that five years has gone by so fast.

"I thought to myself that will be a long time to get here," he said of the 2014 Senior Day. "And all of a sudden it's here. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but it's been a good ride."

It's been a historical ride of sorts for the First Family of Bison basketball. When he verbally committed to NDSU out of Fargo Shanley, of course, comparisons to his mother, former Bison women's standout player Pat (Smykowski) Jacobson, had already started.

His sophomore sister, Sarah Jacobson, is the second-leading scorer on the Bison women's team. Both were part of state championship teams at Shanley who decided to stay at home for college ball.

Now that A.J. has gone through five years, he said he heard less about his mom's career than he expected. Pat Jacobson was NDSU's first women's basketball Kodak Division II All-American and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

"She had a great career, and I wouldn't say my career was nearly as good as her career was," he said. "But it's one of those things that it's an honor to be mentioned with her."

Injuries haven't helped A.J., especially this year when just getting to practice has been a chore. A foot injury hampered him early in the season. That was followed by a ligament injury in his hand.

He still started all 27 games averaging 9.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, down from his high of 12.7 points per game as a sophomore.

There were plenty of highs, such as the Bison winning the Summit League tournament and reaching the NCAA tournament his first two years in school. Off the court, he found lifelong friends like his two roommates for the past three years—guard Paul Miller and center Spencer Eliason.

Miller will most likely give professional basketball a shot. Eliason is pursuing medical school after this season. The medical track also has Jacobson's name written on it. Like Senior Day, the real world is coming quick.

He's engaged to be married this summer to Kelly Weir. Then it's on to the College of Dentistry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a path that has four more years of school to it.

In a sense, it was recruiting all over again with Jacobson also considering the University of Minnesota and Creighton University (Neb.). If his mother is the basketball motivation, his father is the career idol. David Jacobson is a physician at the Fargo VA Medical Center.

"The medical profession has always been an inspiration from my dad," A.J. said.

And, for the first time, basketball won't be a center of attention.

"It's going to be a lot different, I mean all the time I've spent in the gym," he said. "I have a feeling professional school is going to be a difficult task, but I'm going to miss the game. It's going to be weird not having the game in my life, that's for sure."

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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