Posted On: 07/4/19 9:34 AM
A popular notion for young hoopers is to always play your hardest, because you never know who could be watching.
For Jack Wetzel, a 44 point performance with Gain Elite this spring at an adidas Gauntlet event set the wheels in motion for an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“(Prolific Prep) was looking for a shooter, they’ve got Jalen Green and Nimari Burnett, and all those top guys, and they wanted a guy that could shoot the ball pretty well,” said Wetzel.
The staff at Prolific Prep heard about Wetzel’s 44 point performance. After watching him play several more times they reached out and explained how their academy worked.
Wetzel was at first apprehensive, but the more he learned, the better he thought of it.
“I didn’t really think about it too much, so I just kind of thought I wouldn’t pursue it. But then I started thinking about it, thinking about all the players and the opportunity it would be, and I decided to go for it,” Wetzel said. “It took me months to make this decision, it was tough. I thought about it for six months.”
Wetzel is leaving behind a Cedar Rapids Kennedy program in which he averaged 17.8 points per game last season. He led the Cougars in scoring as a sophomore and junior.
“It’s obviously a big decision to leave the school that I’ve been at for three years. I’ve made a whole bunch of friends at that school. My teammates, I’ll never forget them, they’ve been very supportive of my decision,” Wetzel said.
“It’s nothing personal, I just thought I could have an even greater opportunity at Prolific.”
The roster at Prolific Prep is stacked, several of the 2020 guys are ranked among the top 100 in Prep Hoops’ national rankings. Jalen Green, Prep Hoops’ 3rd-ranked 2020 recently decided to transfer into Prolific Prep from his high school in Fresno, California.
Other top 2020s on the PP roster include Coleman Hawkins and Nemari Burnett .
“They’re cool guys, they’re fun guys, they all have good attitudes, so playing with them will definitely elevate my game,” Wetzel said. “The level I will be competing at will be very high level, and will be very useful for my game.”
The Prolific Prep guys stay with host families in Napa. They attend a small, private school, Napa Christian Academy.
Wetzel has always prioritized academics; and according to Prolific Prep’s website, the basketball academy does as well.
“The ultimate goal is to recruit elite high school basketball players who are also great students and offer them an environment whereby academic standards are not sacrificed in the name of athletic excellence,” the website states.
Wetzel’s spoken with his new teammates about the academics.
“The school has top-notch teachers and top-notch academics. And just from what I’ve heard from the players, if you need help it’s there for you and the teachers are all great,” said Wetzel.
On the court, the Prolific Prep guys play in The Grind Session, a league comprised of 31 basketball academies and prep schools from around the country.
Former Cedar Rapids Prairie standouts Kris Murray and Keegan Murray will also play in The Grind Session next season with Florida’s DME Academy.
“The style of play is going to be different, every player is going to be able to score the ball, so my defense is something high on my list that I need to get better at,” Wetzel said. “So, it’s all very exciting, and the biggest thing for me was just to be able to play at that level.”
Recruitment is also something Wetzel considered when making his decision. He says Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and Illinois-Chicago have been the latest schools to reach out to him.
“I’m going to have a lot more recruitment opportunities there,” said Wetzel. “It’s basically a year of college before you can get to college, with the training and the game schedule and the level of talent you play against, so that definitely factored into it all.”