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David Thorpe's Giant

The trainer writes about one of his newest clients, who is 16 years old, and 7-4.

7-4. 16 years old. Wow. Ike Jakub "Big Kuba" Kusmieruk can play, even a little, he's going to have every opportunity to play in the NBA.

Thorpe likes his chances:

But I was most impressed with Jakub himself, his desire to excel and his willingness to do what is necessary to get there. On day one, Jakub missed almost every dunk attempt for one reason or another. He had no excuses, and didn’t try to offer any. Instead of hanging his head and feeling shame, he simply “knuckled up” and listened intently to the mistakes he was making. By weeks end, he was dunking with authority 10-15 consecutive times in a drill, and surprising all of us with his speed in the process. It takes heart to first fail, then keep pushing until you succeed. Jakub has a big heart inside that large body. Instead of simply playing in one AAU tournament after another this summer, Jakub chose the tougher route. He attended multiple weeks of the famed Five-Star Basketball Camp, learning skills from some of America’s best teachers. He traveled to many different states to work one on one with top individual coaches. His coaches took copius notes and filmed hours of the training. In the process, Jakub learned what it takes to improve and succeed. I think he chose the wiser route.

I know there will be countless college coaches and scouts who will write about all of Jakub’s faults. But I also know the NBA is filled with players who were similarly knocked at 16 years of age.