Jake Layman Looks For USA Roster Spot
Jake Layman wrapped up his prep career as the all-time leading scorer at King Phillip Regional High School in Massachusetts with 1,752 career points, and, impressively, he averaged a double-double of 20.6 points and 12.9 rebounds per game over his four years there. After tallying 26.5 points and 16.0 rebounds per game as a senior in 2011-12, Layman earned ESPN Boston Mr. Basketball for the state of Massachusetts, and he was named MVP of the Hockomock League for a second consecutive time.
"I guess (setting the scoring record) was a goal, but it was a team effort," Layman said. "It wasn't just me that made that happen. It was a nice accomplishment though."
And while the team set a record for wins with an 18-3 mark this past season, King Phillip and Layman lost in the quarterfinals of the Division II South Tournament after reaching the finals in 2010-11.
"It wasn't the best way to wrap up my prep career, but over the four years, the way we changed the program, that's really what mattered to me."
King Phillip also had something to do with changing Layman, who said his high school coach emphasized community service, including an anti-bullying campaign and a "Points Against Cancer" fundraiser.
"We did a lot of stuff with the elementary schools in our three towns," Layman explained. "I went to a regional school, so it's three towns put together. For a couple of days we went to the elementary schools and talked to them about bullying. We connected with the kids, and it was always a good time. It was our basketball team that did it. For Points Against Cancer, every point we scored in a game, that amount of dollars went to fight cancer, and a dunk was worth $5. We picked kids in our community that we found out had cancer, and we gave the money to them.
"Our coach made it a priority to get out into the community and show our faces to everybody. It was a big deal to us. To see the kids get excited when they saw us and learned about what we were doing, it pushes them to want to be like us, and that's a good thing. I would say the hardest part was working with the little, little kids because they are crazy. But it was fun."
Layman's outstanding senior season also earned him an invitation to attend the USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team Trials. Arriving at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 5, Layman is one of 23 elite players participating in two-a-day sessions in hopes of earning a spot on the 12-member USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team.
"I knew about the altitude before coming out here, but in the first couple of drills I was dying," Layman said. "My trainer just told me to play within my game and don't try and do anything to crazy, just play the way you know how to play. I think I've been playing pretty well, playing within my game. It's an honor to be here, first of all, and it's been really fun."
Layman said he came into the USA Basketball training camp feeling strong, having already started to prepare for his freshman year of college with the University of Maryland.
"I have been working out with my trainer a lot. His name is Steve Hailey, and he's been pushing me every day. I'm working out with the Harvard players too, and they push me every day. So, I'm working on taking my game to the next level. I think I need to improve my dribbling a lot because there are going to be smaller guards defending me, poking at the ball. So, I definitely need to improve my dribbling, and you can always improve your jumpshot. And I'd say my strength, too -- getting bigger."
There is just one more session on the evening of July 7 before finalists for the 12-member USA team are expected to be announced. The team will compete in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be played June 16-20 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil -- hunting for a gold medal as well as a berth into next summer's FIBA U19 World Championship, which goes to the top four finishing teams.
"To make the USA roster would be the biggest basketball accomplishment for me so far," Layman said. "It would be amazing."