Conversation: GVSU men’s basketball freshman Jake Van Tubbergen

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Sports Information
Jake Van Tubbergen

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Sports Information Jake Van Tubbergen

Robbie Triano

The Grand Valley State men’s basketball team headed into the winter break with a rough 3-7 record to start the season, but it wasn’t a fault of their talent. The team had to quickly implement new players into their system while also dealing with various injuries. 

Since then, the Lakers have won five straight games to bring their record to above .500. One major reason could be freshman forward Jake Van Tubbergen, who missed the first four games due to an ankle injury.

The Holland native and West Ottawa High School alumnus has already earned major minutes, mainly because of his versatility to play forward or center and his multiple offensive and defensive skills. In 11 games, Van Tubbergen has averaged 10.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and one steal per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field, second behind senior center Drake Baar (57 percent). 

Lanthorn Sports Editor Robbie Triano had a chance to talk with Van Tubbergen about his first season, battling injuries and more. 

Robbie Triano: You’re about to be halfway through your first season here at Grand Valley. What are some major differences you’ve noticed compared to high school basketball?

Jake Van Tubbergen: I knew it was going to be a higher level of competition, but it took awhile to keep up with the speed of the game. The ball is moving all the time. Not only that, but everyone is at the level of basketball IQ where everybody knows exactly what to do and where to be on the court. 

RT: You talk about knowing where to be on the court. Where do you like to shoot the ball offensively?

JVT: This may be an obvious answer, but the paint. But on the real, though, I like to drive on the baseline.

RT: Head coach Ric Wesley listed you as this team’s top freshman coming into the season. Did you have any other recruitment offers besides Grand Valley?

JVT: I got one from Davenport and St. Francis, but I knew Grand Valley was where I was going to go once I saw the offer.

RT: Why’s that?

JVT: Besides GV being so close to home, the guys really made me feel welcome when I visited. The chance to play here seemed too fun to pass up.

RT: I understand you missed the start of the season because of a foot injury. What exactly happened there?

JVT: It was during open gym just three weeks before our (exhibition) game against Michigan. I went up and landed awkwardly on my ankle, which I knew was bad the second it happened. I ended up spraining and partially breaking my ankle.

RT: Was that difficult watching your team play without you on the court?

JVT: Being a freshman, I didn’t expect to get that much playing time early on. But it gave me a good chance to watch my teammates play and see how each of them play the game.

RT: Being a freshman, how has the treatment been from all the upperclassmen?

JVT: I mean, yeah, they tease me here and there, but they’ve really embraced me and took me under their wing so far. They’re a really good group of guys.

RT: Really? Nothing?

JVT: Well, (senior) Chris Dorsey calls me “Jake the Snake,” but I think it’s just because it rhymes.

RT: Off the court, what’s one of the toughest things about being a freshman?

JVT: Yeah, I don’t really fit on my dorm room bed. 

RT: How tall are you again?

JVT: 6 foot 6 inches.

RT: How do you make that work? Do your feet just dangle off the bed?

JVT: Either that or I have to curl my legs in the bed. It’s not fun.

RT: Let’s take a break from your game and get to know you. If you’re playing NBA 2K18 (video game), what player do you like to play the best?

JVT: (Washington Wizards shooting guard) Bradley Beal. He’s just great and has a sweet shot.

RT: Who has the best jump shot in the NBA?

JVT: Easy, Stephen Curry.

RT: Dribbling skills?

JVT: Kyrie Irving.

RT: Best defender?

JVT: That’s a tough one. There’s a lot of great defenders out there, but I got to give props to Kawhi Leonard.

RT: Lastly, who’s the best teammate in the NBA?

JVT: Another easy one. Lebron James. He just makes everyone around him so much better.

RT: Finding time to get schoolwork time must be difficult for you, but if there’s one of your teammates that you could get work done with, who would it be?

JVT: (Redshirt freshman) Steven Lloyd. He just gets his work done and isn’t distracting.

RT: On the opposite, who’s the one teammate you can’t get anything done with?

JVT: (Freshman) Brett Lauf. There’s no way we can get anything done together. He always wants to talk, all the time.

RT: Well, there’s still a good amount of season left to be played. What’s some goals you and your team have set before the end of the year? 

JVT: We just need to focus on team success. Earlier in the year, we battled a lot of different injuries, and now we finally have everybody back and playing together. The chemistry is starting to click between us. But realistically, we just want to make the conference tournament. If we make it there, we’ll just have to fight our way through together.