O'Neal Guard Sets School Scoring Record
Jacob Talbert’s basketball journey started in his backyard, shooting hoops with his father.
Now, the O’Neal senior has taken another step in that hoops journey by setting the school’s career-scoring record for boys with 1,209 points. He did it Tuesday when he poured in 27 points against visiting Fayetteville Christian to eclipse the previous record of 1,194 points.
“The biggest influence has been my Dad,” Talbert says. “I started playing soccer really young. Dad noticed I was pretty athletic and he thought I might be good at basketball. We would shoot out in the yard for hours. He would show me the proper way to shoot. He started me in rec league, and it took off from there”
The son of David and Kim Talbert of Southern Pines, Jacob has been a four-year starter for the Falcons. The 6-foot-1 guard had a lot of support when he set the record, according to Falcon coach David Graves.
“He knew before the game he had to get 13 points,” Graves says. “The students in the stands knew it too, and they were really into it. They kept a running total. It was nice of them to give him that kind of recognition.”
Talbert’s assault on the school’s scoring record isn’t over yet. The Falcons have five games left in the season, plus a conference tournament, and with Talbert averaging more than 20 points a game, he’s likely to set a high standard for future Falcons to pursue. But Talbert is concentrating on another standard: the success of the Falcons as a team.
“It’s great to set the record,” Talbert says. “The season started off rough for the team, and we had a lot of close losses. But we’ve picked up the intensity and we’re working really well together. Trusting each other has turned into wins.”
After starting 3-8, the Falcons have been on a tear, winning five games in a row going into Friday’s game at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington (results not available by press time). Talbert has been a key ingredient in that surge, along with the improved play of the entire team.
“Whatever it takes to win, I’m game for it,” Talbert says. “If I have to pass 50 times for us to win, I will. But I really love to score and putting points on the board helps us win. I’ll do anything to help us win.”
Graves believes that Talbert has been a spark in the Falcons’ surge, but he also believes the team in general has made long strides in building the winning streak.
“He’s our team captain, our team leader,” says Graves. “He leads by example. He’s not real outspoken, but he’s earned the respect of his teammates. I think the players have figured out how to win. They are a solid squad, it just took them awhile to figure out how to win games. The games we lost were tight.”
Talbert started playing organized basketball as a young boy in the Southern Pines recreation league. Then in seventh and eighth grade he played on a local traveling team that also featured Adam Cummings, a senior at Pinecrest who has been a two-year starter at guard for the Patriots.
“We get together and play pickup ball now and then,” Talbert says of his friendship with Cummings. “We talk a little trash to each other.”
Talbert has also played with an upper-level AAU team, the Fayetteville Stars.
But his skills have flourished during his time as a Falcon. Graves, in his third year as Falcon coach, points out that Talbert’s exploits on the hardwood have come from hard work and a competitive fire.
“Jacob is very hard-working and dedicated to getting better,” Graves says. “He puts the time in the gym to make it happen. He spends a lot of time in the weight room. He’s a strong guy, he’s virtually unstoppable.
“He is not just a shooter. He’s a ball handler, which helps him get to the basket where’s he’s good at drawing fouls. He’s unselfish. When the game is on the line he’s not afraid to take over. And you don’t want to make him mad, because then it’s on.”
Graves points out that Talbert is the total package. Not only does he score, he also averages about eight rebounds a game and is among the team leaders in assists and steals.
And then there is defense.
“He plays defense really well,” Graves says. “He’ll switch to the opposing team’s hot player, and more often than not he shuts them down.”
Talbert easily admits that playing defense is something he enjoys.
“I love scoring,” he says. “There are so many ways to score in basketball, but defense is another one of the things I love. There is nothing like shutting down someone really good on the other team and helping your team win.”
Graves also indicates that Talbert possesses a basketball savvy, an ability to be the coach on the floor.
“A lot of times he makes adjustments out on the floor like he knows what I am thinking,” says Graves. “He is really good at making changes on the fly.
“I’ve been fortunate to have him for three years.”
Talbert’s basketball journey isn’t going to end with the completion of the Falcons season. The sharp-shooting guard has his eyes set on the next level of competition.
He has already received looks from several Division III schools. But he also has a dream of playing Division I ball.
“I’d like to play on the next level,” he says. “I’ve had a couple of looks from DIII schools. I’m also thinking about walking on at Campbell. That’s a decision I still need to make.”
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