By Brandon Webb
A funny thing happened on one of Karl Smesko’s recruiting trips about five years ago.
The Florida Gulf Coast head women’s basketball coach was attending an AAU Tournament where he was to scout promising prospect Courtney Chihil. Only Chihil was a no-show.
Still, Smesko hung around and another player caught his eye, not necessarily by her performance. Rather, it was how she played.
That player? Kelsey Jacobson.
“As I recall, she didn’t shoot it well,” Smesko said. “But you could tell that she was working hard to get shots and her teammates kept looking to her. I had a feeling that she was a player.”
Smesko called Jacobson in her hometown of Barnesville, Minn., to see if she would come to Florida for a visit.
“When we brought her down, I knew immediately that she was my kind of player,” Smesko said.
That fateful scouting trip and the subsequent phone call landed the Atlantic Sun Conference’s most prolific 3-point shooter ever, where she joined Chihil.
Jacobson added four more three-pointers to her career A-Sun mark on Friday as FGCU easily dispatched Kennesaw State, 76-53, in the General Shale Brick A-Sun Championship at Mercer’s University Center.
Jacobsen, a 2011-12 Second Team All-Atlantic Sun selection, now has 329 career three-pointers, sitting alone as the conference’s all-time leader from beyond the arc. Eighty-one of her 96 field goals this season have come from long distance. And she enjoyed her 19th multiple three-point game in 30 tries this season.
The senior, however, wasn’t born with natural shooting ability.
In fact, don’t call her a pure shooter.
“People have always said that I’m a pure shooter, but I completely disagree with that,” said Jacobson, whose 1,265 points stands second on the school’s all-time scoring list behind Adrianne McNally (1,415). “To be a really great shooter takes a lot of work.”
When Jacobson’s dad started working with her in the seventh grade, she worked solely on form – twice a day -- exclusively from inside the three-point line. For a full year, she never took a shot from three-point range.
“It taught me the value of developing form,” Jacobson said. “You don’t want to be pushing your shot at such a young age.”
Which is why Jacobson was so disappointed with her play in the quarterfinals against East Tennessee State, where she struggled to just 1-for-6 from behind the arc.
“My teammates will tell you I’m pretty hard on myself, especially after a game like that,” Jacobson said. “I put a lot of time into working on my shot, and when I get on the court I want to be able to provide something to my team.
“I know my teammates are working hard to get me shots, so I need to knock those shots down for them.”
That desire, along with several of her teammates’ hot hands, have propelled the Eagles (28-2) to an unbeaten conference record and landed them in the A-Sun Women’s final at Noon on Saturday.
“I decided when I was seven years old that I wanted to play Division I basketball,” Jacobson said. “It’s all I wanted. I focused on that every day.
“Tomorrow will probably be my last game. I have no illusions of playing in the WNBA or overseas, so it’s going to be the culmination of everything I’ve done since I was seven.”
Brandon Webb is a freelance sports writer that resides in Macon, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org