Posted On: 10/21/18 2:00 PM

Pine Island had a down season last winter after losing a big senior class and its two best players. The Panthers are eyeing a bounceback season and the starting point for that optimism is all-conference senior Jake Weber.

Weber, a 6-foot-3 wing, averaged 16 points per game as a junior and is one of the top returning players in the Hiawatha Valley League. He spent the spring and summer with Minnesota Select where he had a chance to test himself against top flight competition every weekend.

“I had a great experience over the summer getting to meet and play with a lot of really good players,” said Weber. “I think that it’s a very valuable step to improve my skills. That kind of competition helps me get ready for the college level.”

Weber is a strong scorer on all three levels as he’s got a solid shooting stroke, good handles and the size and body control to finish in traffic. He’s got the tools to be a quality defender on the wing too.

“I feel like I got better at decision making throughout the year,” sad Weber. “I still want to get stronger and improve as a ball handler.”

Weber’s ability to take over a game in stretches while also blending in and playing a role makes him an intriguing college prospect. Schools have certainly taken notice.

“I have always wanted to play college ball,” said Weber. “I’ve narrowed my decision down to Augsburg, Hamline, St. Olaf and UW Superior.”

Pine Island won nine games last year but has a solid core of returners and should expect to finish in that second tier in the HVL this winter. If that’s going to happen, Weber will have to be very good.

“I think the team is going to surprise a lot of people,” said Weber. “I would say a personal goal for me is to not force anything; let the game come to me. Our team goal is to win the conference.”