Jacobs takes long way home

BayRunners: Former Southern High and Towson State star Terrance Jacobs has played pro basketball on four continents, but he has returned to Baltimore seeking a spot with the IBL team.

July 11, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Terrance Jacobs has used basketball to see the world, and now he wants his hometown to see more of him.

Jacobs is among the more than 30 players who have spent a good portion of their weekend at Coppin State, hoping to impress the staff of the Baltimore BayRunners as it conducted a pre-draft camp in preparation for the inaugural season of the International Basketball League.

Coach Herb Brown said he was looking for "anybody who can help us win." He wouldn't mind mixing in some veterans who can "teach the young guys how to adapt to the pro game," and Jacobs fills both orders.

A 6-foot-3 guard who specialized in doing the dirty work for Southern High and Towson State, Jacobs has expanded his game and his knowledge of geography since his collegiate eligibility expired in 1992.

Jacobs has drawn paychecks on four continents. He got his professional baptism in Hong Kong, battled homesickness in Austria and learned to cook in Germany. He spent a season in Honduras, and here in the States, he has been to less exotic locales, playing for minor-league teams in Wisconsin (Continental Basketball Association), Connecticut (United States Basketball League) and Frederick (American Basketball Association).

The IBL aspires to be recognized as the second-best league in the United States, a steppingstone to the NBA. Jacobs, 28, is competing against dynamic, younger talents like Shawnta Rogers and Antoine Brockington for a chance with the BayRunners.

"I'd love to come back home and play in front of family and friends," Jacobs said. "Other than pickup games, they haven't seen much of me the last seven years. It would give my son a chance to see me play. I was away his first couple of years, and I want to help him grow. I've got a little girl now, too, so I want to stay in Baltimore."

During some lonely times in Vienna, Jacobs longed for familiar faces. A salary in excess of $70,000 kept him overseas in Germany, but there never seemed to be enough phone calls home to his mother, Mabel Boswell. She died in April after a lengthy illness, which had led Jacobs to put his hoop dreams on hold and stay home the last two winters.

Jacobs has sold used cars and worked as a travel agent and at the front desk of a hotel, but he has has always been a whatever-it-takes type.

After stops at Old Dominion and Allegany, Jacobs helped Towson return to the NCAA tournament in 1990-91, when the Tigers would post up Chuck Lightening if Devin Boyd didn't shoot. Jacobs seemed to get all of his 15.9 points per game on put-backs, and a year later he averaged team highs of 23.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals .

"I shoot a lot more threes than I used to," Jacobs said. "When I moved to Germany, I began to develop my outside shot, and it's become pretty good. That's been the biggest improvement in my game, but I still like to go inside and mix it up. I still like to post up a smaller guard and do all the little things I can to help a team win."

The BayRunners already have the rights to locals like Rogers, Rodney Elliott and Obinna Ekezie, and the next step in building their roster will be the July 19 draft. In the search for support and revenue, the eight IBL franchises figure to round out their rosters with players familiar to their markets.

"If they can play, absolutely," said Brown, when asked if local players have any edge. "They would save us a lot of money. You don't have to spend a lot to fly guys in for training camp. You don't have to spend a lot of time finding them a place to live. We don't have to introduce them to the public.

"This is a great high school basketball area. There's some terrific college ball in the area. A lot of players from here go to major colleges and do well. It behooves us to take them, but we're not going to take a kid if he's not a player."

The BayRunners will conclude their pre-draft camp with an all-star game at 3 p.m. today that is open to the public, free of charge.

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