Boys basketball: Cary-Grove alum Frank Jakubicek keeps up winning ways at D-I Belmont

Frank Jakubicek has stepped onto a basketball floor 59 times since November of 2019, and in 55 of those contests he and his teammates have walked off winners.

Jakubicek, a 6-foot-8 forward, affected games in a much larger way last season at Cary-Grove than he does now for NCAA Division I Belmont.

In high school, he dominated inside, gobbling up rebounds, swatting shots and dunking, sometimes, almost at will.

Now, he logs 7.3 minutes a game, averaging 2.8 points and 1.2 rebounds for the Bruins, who are poised to take the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship and will try to secure an NCAA Tournament berth by winning the OVC Tournament, March 3-6.

Belmont’s only loss came on Dec. 5 to Samford. Despite their sparkling record, the Bruins may have to win the OVC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.

Jakubicek sees similarities between the Trojans, who set a school record at 31-3 last year, and the Bruins, who rank just outside the Top 25 in both the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.

“Our whole college team, we’re a group of friends,” Jakubicek said. “We all get along well and have really good chemistry. That definitely helps us. In practice and games, we’re playing for each other. We have the team-first mentality.

“We have talented players at both places (high school and college). It’s a combination of talent, the work ethic and togetherness that we show.”

Jakubicek graduated from C-G as the No. 2 career scorer (1,153 points, teammate Beau Frericks is first at 1,540), the leading rebounder (839) and leader in blocked shots (264). If statistics were kept for dunks, Jakubicek would undoubtedly have that mark as well.

The freshman biology major helps his team the most in practices this season.

“Our coaches do a really, really good job scouting the teams we’re playing,”Jakubicek said. “I do my best to see what the other team’s all about on film and replicate that and give my teammates the best look I can.

“Coming in as a freshman, I wanted to make as big of an impact on the team as possible, but I wasn’t expecting to be a superstar. I was looking to gain some experience from guys who have been here and kind of work on my game and find my place. I think I’ve done a good job of that so far.”

Jakubicek’s time at Belmont will come.

“Frank has a bright future at Belmont with his ability to play either post position,” Bruins coach Casey Alexander said. “Off the floor, he’s a perfect model for the type of student-athlete that has made this program so successful through the years.”

Alexander played at Belmont from 1991-95 and later coached with former Bruins coach Rick Byrd, whom he took over for in the 2019-20 season.

Alexander was gone before Belmont landed another prime big man from the Fox Valley Conference, Huntley’s 6-8 Amanze Egekeze. In his freshman season, Egekeze played on the 2015 OVC Tournament champion and made the NCAA Tournament.

Jakubicek now has a shot at making the tournament as a freshman, like Egekeze did. Coincidentally, the two worked out together last summer with basketball skills coach Zac Boster. Egekeze plays professionally in France and also played this week in the FIBA AfroBaskets Championships for Nigeria.

“(Egekeze) was really helpful,” Jakubicek said. “We play similar positions. He was really able to give me a little head start as to what things were going to be like. It was a lot of fun to get to know him. He’s a great guy and a really great basketball player.”

Jakubicek is the third D-I basketball-playing sibling in his family. He drew from the experiences of his older sisters Claire (Indiana) and Olivia (St. Louis University), who both played D-I basketball, before heading to school in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It’s absolutely been a benefit, not just physically, but mentally,” he said. “They were able to help me prepare for what to expect. They gave me advice about making sure I’m working hard, and how to balance my schedule between school and basketball. It can be a lot. I had a decent idea what I was getting into, so that definitely helped out a lot.”

Joe Stevenson

I have worked at the Northwest Herald since January of 1989, covering everything from high school to professional sports. I mainly cover high school sports now.