Monday , February 17, 2014 - 7:41 PM
SOUTH WEBER — Ask a hundred different high school basketball players why they play the game and you might get a hundred different answers.
For 18-year-old Northridge High School senior Jake Bigler, the answer is relatively simple. It’s his life.
Bigler has been playing basketball since he was 2 years old. His dad gave him a Fisher-Price hoop, Bigler picked up a ball and he hasn’t stopped since.
“I enjoy everything,” Bigler said about the game. “The excitement, the crowd, playing with my teammates — some of my best friends, I play with. It’s just fun coming out on Tuesdays and Fridays and putting your all out on the court.”
Bigler’s “all” has been pretty devastating for Northridge opponents this season. Through Tuesday night’s game at Davis, Bigler is averaging 16.4 points and 3.6 made 3-pointers per game. He’s the leading scorer on the team and the first player any opposing coach thinks about when they prepare to play Northridge, according to coach Chad Sims.
Bigler says basketball is his life, but his work ethic proves it.
“Seven days a week,” Jake’s father Barrey Bigler said of his work routine. “He works on Sundays. He can’t get enough… He lives and breathes basketball.
“Even on trips, he has to get a little workout time in in the mornings when we wakes up. Even if it’s just at the hotel gym, he’s got to do something. He’s got to get his shots, got to get his 200 foul shots — do the things he does.”
According to Barrey, that work ethic runs in the family.
“Both myself and his mother are success driven, I believe.” Barrey said. “We don’t push him ... but I believe genetics have a lot to do with life itself, and acorns don’t fall far from the tree.”
Jake didn’t originally begin his high school playing career at Northridge. He played (and started) his freshman year at Layton Christian Academy, where he was the team’s leading scorer during the 2010-11 season. Jake, however, wanted to play in 5A, and because Northridge was inside his living boundaries, it just made sense.
Arriving at Northridge, Jake admits he was primarily focused on what he brought to the table with his offense.
“It was all about scoring,” Jake said. “Just wanted to shoot and take it in, and that’s all I wanted to do.”
Simply playing offense wasn’t going to put him in the starting lineup though, a lesson Jake quickly found out. Since then, he’s worked to improve his all-around game.
“Since my sophomore year, my game has evolved a lot,” Jake said. “I’ve become a better shooter, a better penetrator and also a better defender. This program at Northridge has made me become a better defender because we work on it for hours every day.”
Now, Jake finds that he enjoys roles that don’t necessarily involve scoring.
“Now, I enjoy rebounds, or dishing it off for assists or getting steals,” Jake said. “I enjoy that part of it too, along with scoring.
“Of course, everybody cares about their scoring, their stats, but if you can contribute to the team in any way, you’re going to be a positive influence on your team. And if you’re a good teammate, it’s going to help the team a lot, and sometimes you got to just pass up the shot and give it up for the betterment of the team.”
The determination Jake shows on the basketball court has also found its way into the classroom. Despite all the energy focused on performing on the court, Jake finished last quarter with a 3.7 GPA.
“Not only is he a gym rat, he’s as conscientious about his grades as he is about basketball,” Barrey said.
As far as Jake’s future, he seems to have accepted that he’ll probably start out at a junior college. College of Southern Idaho and Colorado Northwestern have each shown interest with Jake already having taken a visit to College of Southern Idaho. A formal offer has yet to be made, but Jake knows he has their attention.
“I’m probably going to go the JC route to try and get my two years done, and maybe go play somewhere bigger – Division I,” Jake said.
Beyond that, he’s hopeful of perhaps a career overseas.
No matter how difficult the path though, Jake is confident.
“If you go out there and perform every night, something good is going to happen,” Jake said.
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