June 11, 2014

Wickliffe to make his mark

Kevin McCarthy

In Santa Clara County prep athletics, Wilcox High in Santa Clara is best known for its laudatory baseball history but as someone once sang, “the times they are a changing.” Helping lead this modification towards hoops is 6-foot-5, 180 junior-to-be Jase Wickliffe.

photo of Jase Wickliffe

As part of a Wilcox 22-5 season, plus 11-1 in the El Camino League, Wickliffe earned First Team honors based on his 2013-14 production. His recent play as a member of the Top Flight Elite squad in the Bay Area Memorial Day Classic brought him further attention: “athletic combo forward who is a versatile scorer. Solid ball handler and passer, can finish in transition, dribble operates on the block, has a nice short drive, shoots it ok with 3 range, solid rebounder, very active.”

So who is Jase Wickliffe?

Wickliffe recently noted “shooting and decision-making” as his best basketball skills and the former was not a genetic gift but a hard-earned talent. “I put a lot of work into shooting. My form was never traditional so I would watch others and mimic them.”

Here's Tip Flight Elite Coach Chris McSwain on that subject: “I have been coaching Jase since he was 12 years old and have seen the hard work he has put in to become a solid shooter.”

Also a former football player, Wickliffe has settled on roundball because “I just really enjoyed playing it and wanted to get good at it.” Athletics run in the family as Wickliffe has a sister, Daryenne, who runs track at Cal Poly.

As for influences, he cited a number of references. “My father who played in high school in Detroit and at an NAIA college in Michigan, definitely Creighton Lane (a longtime Wilcox coach who died earlier this year), Jabari Parker, Michael Jordan and the whole 90s era [of basketball] when the play was smarter and players made better choices.”

What's interesting is that the youngster performs dual roles depending upon the time of the year. With Wilcox, “I'm more of an inside presence” while Top Flight offers “more freedom. I play the wing and the post but also bring the ball up.”

Some badmouth club team basketball but the opportunity to demonstrate versatility is one of the benefits of spring and summer practice and competition,

Here's McSwain again: “Specifically during the spring and summer is the time to allow players freedom to get better at their craft. During the high school season, it should be all about winning so players must sometimes play roles that give their team the best chance to win. With our AAU program, it is about development, so we allow all our players to work on other areas of their game so they can be well rounded.”

A pair of moments on the court stand out as Wickliffe's best to date, one a personal achievement and the other more atmospheric. “I was playing the passing lanes when I got my first dunk at Wilcox off a steal. It felt so great.” The second was “playing St. Ignatius in the CCS tourney this season. We played tough although we didn't win.” Wilcox fell in overtime 48-44 despite 19 points from Wickliffe.

His goals for the summer are “put on more muscle and weight so the older guys can't push me around and keep working on a set of moves for easy buckets.”

It's obviously very early for recruiting but Wickliffe has interest in going to the East Coast for school and basketball. “The basketball there is different and I enjoyed the snow when we visited Michigan.” But he also finds the West Coast and Midwest attractive.

Wickliffe also already has selected a major. It's mechanical engineering because “I like to know how something works and also want to build my own car.”

As for the coming season, he believes Wilcox will be solid even after losing a lot of seniors. He lauded those departing elders because they made the younger players “work hard and give their all in practices and games.”

Now entering his own upperclassmen tenure, Wickliffe wants to replicate that same sort of leadership.