Ashland-Greenwood senior Cale Jacobsen announced his commitment to Nebraska as a preferred walk-on on Saturday.
Jacobsen chose Nebraska over scholarship offers from North Dakota, St. Thomas and a handful of Division II schools.
Committed!! GBR 🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/pbwdLaUpoW
— Cale Jacobsen (@calejacobsen_) May 7, 2022
“I just felt the most comfortable in Nebraska and I felt like this is a great opportunity for me to surround myself with a lot of really good people that they’re bringing in and that they already have there,” Jacobsen told Hail Varsity. “And so I’ll be able to grow, obviously a lot on the court with the resources they have, but also just be able to build relationships that can last a long time.”
Jacobsen said assistant coach Nate Loenser attended Ashland-Greenwood’s subdistrict game against Lincoln Christian and reached out to him after that. Jacobsen visited for Nebraska’s home game against Iowa then Loenser continued to watch him throughout the state tournament.
Jacobsen took another visit on March 24 and the Huskers offered him an opportunity to walk-on, one he eventually accepted.
“It was really cool,” Jacobsen said. “Just from the visit, you could tell they’re kind of trying to turn things around and they have everything you could need as an athlete in there, all the resources they have, so it was really cool. It’s a good experience for sure.”
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard was a four-year starter for the Bluejays, racking up 1,470 points, 544 rebounds, 340 assists and 261 steals despite missing all but one game of his junior season because of a torn ACL. He shot 66% from the field for his career including 35% from 3 and 77% from the free-throw line.
Jacobsen returned for his senior season and led Ashland-Greenwood to its first state championship. He averaged 17.3 points, 6.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals this season while guiding the Class C1 Bluejays to a 27-1 record. He shot 67% from the field (30% from 3) and 79% from the foul line while sporting a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
He put on a show at the state tournament on his future home court this year, breaking the Class C1 state tournament single-game scoring record with 43 points in the semifinals against Kearney Catholic, then he delivered the assist to Evan Shepard for the game-winning buzzer-beater in the final against three-time reigning champion Auburn.
Jacobsen made an immediate impact as a freshman, averaging 15.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting 62% from the field (41% from 3) and 71% from the line. He stepped it up even more as a sophomore, putting up 22.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.3 steals, 3.0 assists and 1.1 blocks while shooting 67% from the field (34% from 3) and 79% from the free-throw line.
Jacobsen suffered his injury in mid-December of 2020. Now, 16 or so months removed from surgery, he feels like he’s all the way back to 100% and perhaps even learned from the experience.
“I feel like I’m back and even better,” Jacobsen said. “I feel like I’m maybe a little bit different of a player, but I think I still have kind of the same… I’m going to make my teammates better and that’s kind of how my game starts and then kind of work from there. But I think I’m smarter, probably quicker with my hands and just like just the little things I think are improved.”
After missing out on a chance to play on the Under Armour Association circuit last year, Jacobsen played with Nebraska Supreme UAA as an unsigned senior this spring. He played in 12 games including two weekends of circuit play before shutting it down and focusing on making his decision. He received scholarship offers from a pair of Summit League teams in North Dakota and St. Thomas after competing with Supreme.
“I was really grateful to Coach [Ryan] Reeder for just giving me the chance, because it did suck not being able to play at all last spring and summer,”Jacobsen said. “But it’s a different level of athletes, a different level basketball in the UAA circuit, so it was really cool to experience just the intensity and just how competitive everybody is and I was grateful for the opportunity.”
Jacobsen said another in-state walk-on’s path at Nebraska piqued his interest and played into his decision. Charlie Easley walked on out of Lincoln Pius X in 2019 and earned his way into the rotation before transferring to South Dakota State on scholarship.
“If that is my similar path, that would be awesome. I know he worked hard, obviously, when he was there and I know that I’m willing to do the same thing. So just kind of seeing that he did it and it was it was really possible, that was cool for sure.”
That work ethic is one of the most important things Jacobsen thinks he can bring to the program next season.
“I think a couple areas that I’m going to bring and I’m going to bring every day is I’m going to work hard and I’m going to try to just encourage everybody to do the same thing,” Jacobsen said. “I feel like I’ll be able to kind of help the culture build and just be a good person in the locker room, to really kind of spark something and hopefully turn it around a little bit.”
Jacobsen said he wants to continue to improve his athleticism and become more consistent overall, and spoke highly of the coaching staff’s ability to help him accomplish those goals.
“The coaching staff has a pretty impressive résumé of player development and all that stuff, so just being able to work with them and pick their brain will be really cool,” Jacobsen said. “I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”
Jacobsen’s addition gives Nebraska three in-state high school graduates on the 2022-23 roster as he joins North Dakota State transfer Sam Griesel, a Lincoln East product, and Sam Hoiberg, who redshirted last season after walking on out of Lincoln Pius X.
“That’s going to be an awesome experience,”Jacobsen said. “We’re excited. I talked to Sam Hoiberg a little bit today, and then obviously I’ve talked to Sam Griesel quite a bit through Thomas [Viglianco].”
Jacobsen is the second walk-on commit for the Huskers this week, joining Elkhorn South forward Henry Burt. Walk-ons Jackson Cronin and Jace Piatkowski have both entered the transfer portal since the end of the season.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.