Apr. 4—Blue Knights star overcomes injury for standout season.
The expectations Jake Koretz had for himself were pretty reasonable. He knew walking into the Wyoming Seminary gymnasium as a freshman his role was already defined.
With an experienced team in front of him, Koretz realized that cracking the starting lineup initially would be a long shot. So, he needed to wait for his time. He was getting significant minutes that first season and spot starts here and there, but for the most part he was a role player coming off the bench.
At the same time, though, Koretz performed well enough that there were several games where he was on the floor when the fourth quarter buzzer sounded.
“I think I may have had 10 starts my freshman year when a player ahead of me was injured,” Koretz said. “I had a really good relationship with the coach at the time (C.J. Kersey). Before the season, we had some good meetings and I understood my role. I was happy with fighting for minutes to try and establish myself in the lineup.”
As a senior, Koretz led the Blue Knights in scoring this season, averaging 21.4 points per game. He missed four games due to an injury, and was the top 3-point shooter on the team with 33 made.
For his efforts, Koretz was named The Citizens’ Voice Player of the Year. He recently took the time to talk with boys high school basketball beat writer Steve Bennett about his career and what his future holds.
Q: How would you sum up your career at Wyoming Seminary?
A: There were a lot of ups and downs. You really can’t ask for it to be any other way. The lows make the highs more worth it. A lot of ups and downs. There were a lot of battles I had to fight, and there were a lot of battles the team had to fight. There were a couple of disappointing losses and a couple really impressive wins.
Q: Coming in and playing right away as a freshman, what was that like for you, and how much do you think you learned?
A: The biggest thing was patience. When you are in middle school a lot of kids are the best players on the team. I was coming into a team that had five solid dudes. That taught me how to pick my spots and learn how to get all the guys involved. It helped me become a natural point guard. I had to learn how to get all the guys involved and make sure they all got equal shots.
Q: When you look back at how last season ended, and then with everything going on with the pandemic, how did that impact your preparation for the season?
A: To be honest, I don’t think it impacted us at all. You have guys that play basketball all the time. COVID or not, it doesn’t matter if you are shut down, they will still find a way to play and still get shots up. The best players in the conference don’t let something like COVID impact them. It was hard not being with the team. We had a lot of seniors that have played together for a long time.
Q: At what point did you finally believe there was going to be a season?
A: For a long time I was thinking there was no way we were going to play. Especially when we got shut down in late December and early January. Once we heard we can start practicing again, there was a glimpse of hope. I was just happy to be in the gym. I think we learned that is the way it was in all aspects of life. We knew we had practice so we would go to practice. Just take it every day at a time.
Q: How difficult was it to deal with all the starts and stops this season entailed for you?
A: Obviously it presents challenges. But everyone else was going through it. We shut down for three weeks. Nobody else was, so that was tough.
Q: What do you think the best part of your game is?
A: What I learned my freshman and sophomore year, just understanding when different guys need to get the ball. I tried to get guys the ball in spots where they can succeed.
Q: What are some of the things you want to improve on going forward?
A: I would say what college coaches and prep school coaches are telling me, and that is my athleticism. I am not much of a jumper. For the most part, I am strong enough to play at the next level. I need to work on my quickness off the dribble.
Q: How was the recruiting process, and what does the future hold for you?
A: It’s been just like the season, up and down. Coming out of my junior year I was getting recruited by a couple of Patriot League and Ivy League schools. I got hurt my junior year and they started to fall through. With no live period last year, that was tough. I was hearing from a lot of high academic Division III schools. I am leaning toward taking a prep year. I hope to make a decision within the next week or two.
Q: If you could go back and play one game over again who would it be against and other than the outcome, what would you like to change?
A: There are a lot of games I would replay in my head. Going back to my sophomore year we played Abington Heights at home. That was one of the worst games I ever played. We lost by one. I made some sloppy turnovers. The Riverside district championship game this year. I will be thinking about that the rest of my life. I didn’t play well in the first half and didn’t play great in the second half. I didn’t shoot well. I didn’t do things particularly well.
Q: You have the chance to pick one player to play a game of one-on-one against. Who are you picking and do you win?
A: Quinn Cook (of the Cleveland Cavaliers). He is my favorite player. I’m a Duke fan. My grandmother always rooted for North Carolina and rooted against Duke. I was 4 years old and couldn’t figure out why she rooted against Duke, and North Carolina was always on TV. I have been following him ever since he has been in the NBA. I am definitely not beating him, but it would be cool to play against him.
Q: Who has the best jump shot in the Koretz family?
A: That is not even a tough one. It’s me, definitely me. My dad (Larry) played in the easy days. He didn’t have the 3-point shot then, so guys weren’t coming out on him.
Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-821-2062; @CVSteveBennett on Twitter
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