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The Chandler Jacobs story: How a former Division II standout became a shining light for the Colorado State Rams
LAS VEGAS — Chandler Jacobs has found much more than just a new team this season, he has found a new home.
Coming out of Dallas Baptist University, where Jacobs became the program’s all-time leading scorer and made four consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament, the fifth-year guard had no shortage of DI offers to finish up his collegiate career.
The thing is Jacobs did not want to end up just anywhere, he wanted to make the most of his final season of collegiate eligibility.
After briefly verbally committing to Texas Tech, Jacobs ultimately signed with Colorado State largely due to the relationship he established with Ali Farkokhmanesh throughout the recruiting process. According to Jacobs, in an industry filled with selfish and fake individuals, Farokhmanesh stood out to him by being genuine, and by looking to establish more than just a surface level relationship.
“I feel like he embodied everything that this culture and this community are about,” Jacobs said. “This community is just filled with so many good, caring people — people that have good hearts and good intentions.”
For Jacobs, winning basketball games and going toe to toe with the talented squads from the Mountain West has been a blast. In a lot of ways, the winning has validated his decision to join the Green & Gold after being courted by schools from the power conferences in college hoops. The winning is not what stands out the most to him when he looks back at the 2021-22 season though. According to the veteran guard, the tight-knit community and the relationships between the fans, the players and the coaches is what he will remember the most.
“We are all just so connected. And there’s so much love in this place,” Jacobs said. “This is the first time I’ve really felt part of a collective team. And that’s not to say that my previous teams were bad or anything of that nature but I just feel so much love here.”
A 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard that plays elite defense and can score at three levels, Jacobs may come off the bench for the Rams but it’s not for a lack of skill. While playing at Dallas Baptist, Jacobs was a bona fide superstar – the type of player that frequently went for 20+ per night. When he came to Fort Collins, Colo., Jacobs needed to reinvent himself though. With a roster stacked with talent, including multiple all-conference selections and the 2022 MWC Player of the Year, the Rams didn’t need Jacobs to come in and do everything. Instead they needed him to be more of a role player, or a guy that was willing to do the dirty work, even on nights where he was not the one lighting up the scoreboard.
For some players that would have been an impossible transition. It’s not always easy for competitors to take a step back, even when it’s the best move for the team, particularly when they are used to being ‘the man’. You would have never guessed it based on his demeanor but Jacobs actually said the shift in roles took him about half of the season to truly feel comfortable. That’s what makes Jacobs so unique though. All year long he has played with maximum effort and with a smile on his face.
“He’s just a selfless young man,” Medved said postgame Thursday night. “You know, as a graduate transfer, to come in here and not only accept but be willing to take any role just to be a part of this team. He’s helped us win so many games throughout the season.”
Jacobs’ humble personality has made him extremely popular amongst ram fans. It’s easy to root for someone that not only busts their tail but also seems to enjoy the grind of it all. But his positivity has also made him beloved by his teammates.
“He’s just an amazing human being,” David Roddy told DNVR Rams in an interview at the Westin Hotel prior to CSU’s quarterfinal game against Utah State.
“If you asked me to describe Chandler, I’d just tell you that I literally couldn’t. You just have to meet him yourself,” Roddy continued. “He’s just such a special person and he’s not afraid to be himself at all, which I absolutely love and respect. He’s a light of this team, so just his impact off the floor, as well as on it, has just been monumental to the season. We’ve won so many big games because of him. And you know, now, he’s kind of coming into his own and embracing his role. He’s just been a joy to hang out with and be a roommate with as well.”
Isaiah Stevens also had nothing but praise for Chandler Jacobs and his fierce competitive attitude. He complimented the first-year Ram for being one of the smartest guys on the team and an extremely well-rounded individual in all walks of life. Just like Roddy though, the most significant trait that stands out about Jacobs to him is his genuineness and the way that he cares about everyone in his life.
“He embodies so many things that I want to embody myself as a person,” Stevens said. “Just the way he carries himself — he’s confident in everything he does — and he’s taught me so much in the last couple of months of being with him that I feel like I’ll be able to hold on to for the rest of my life.”
Beyond the significant impact he’s made on team off of the court, as Roddy mentioned, just because Jacobs played a different role in 2021-22 than he did his first four college seasons, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had big moments for the Green & Gold.
In the overtime win over Boise State on Super Bowl Sunday, Jacobs scored 11 consecutive points between the final minutes of regulation and the extra period. And in the Border War victory over the Pokes at Moby Arena, Jacobs delivered a season-high 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting. His biggest moment of the season so far came in Thursday night’s MWC quarterfinal win over the Utah State Aggies though.
Following a somewhat frustrating game in which he picked up a couple of ticky-tack fouls early in the second half and to sit for much of the final 15 minutes as a result, Jacobs made the game-winning layup off a sweet dish from Stevens with 1.8 seconds showing on the clock. The basket produced the only 2 points that Jacobs scored all night. Nevertheless, when his teammates needed him to step up the most, he didn’t get caught up in the emotion or the frustration of what had already happened. Jacobs displayed a next-play mentality and delivered for CSU in a win-or-go-home scenario.
“I feel like it just speaks volumes to who he is as a person and who we are as a program,” Stevens said of Jacobs postgame. “As long as there is still time on the clock, you still have a chance to make something happen. And he came in and came up with the biggest bucket of the night.”
“Yeah, he’s just super resilient, you know, bounces back every single time” Roddy chimed in. “So, he’s a big-time dude. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Winning the conference tournament is the current goal at hand for the Rams. While it’s safe to assume that CSU is more than comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field at this point, nobody is trying to get too far ahead of themselves or lose focus on the opportunity of delivering CSU it’s first men’s basketball championship of any form since 2003.
“There’s a lot at stake and I think we all feel that,” Jacobs said prior to CSU’s first Mountain West Tournament win. “I think it’s cool we all feel that but are all still enjoying the moment with one another.”
While firmly keeping his eyes on the prize, Jacobs did admit it’s a bit surreal to think about the opportunity he and the team will get on a national stage via March Madness. As a guy that’s always been a college basketball fan, Jacobs has countless memories watching the NCAA Tournament, so in that sense it’s going to be a lifelong dream come true. But on a deeper level, to be someone that started his career at a small school in Division II, often playing in front of crowds that were no bigger than 2,000 on a good day, to now be playing in front of sold-out CSU crowds and in nationally televised matchups is quite the journey.
“Man, it’ll be a dream come true for me,” Jacobs said. “And in a multitude of ways, I feel like I did it the right way. I could have went to Texas Tech, or I could have went somewhere else where I feel like it didn’t really align with my core values and gotten to (the NCAA Tournament). And that could have been fun, you know, but doing it here — I’m doing it with people that I love, I’m doing it with people that I care about, and that care about me, and that allow me to be myself. I feel like I just got the best of all worlds here, so it’s gonna be a surreal moment for me. I don’t think I could have dreamed it any better.”