The last three years have been full of unique and fun experiences for Jake Betlow. The crafty point guard has suited up for Gil St. Bernard’s, Montverde and now St. Benedict's Prep. While many would be overwhelmed playing in numerous systems in their high school career, Jake has performed at a high level each time out. His freshman year he took New Jersey by storm as he was selected by NJ.Com as the “Freshman Of The Year.”
Upon sitting down with Jake, it was obvious why he has been able to make a seamless transition within each program. For starters he's a student of the game. He's well spoken, but not overbearing. It’s clear he’s a natural born leader that knows how to handle a room. On the court, he’s a smooth operator. While many are consumed by pressure moments in a game, Betlow is a kid who embraces high octane situations. He keeps the offense clicking and moving at the right pace.
Recently we linked with Betlow at the Scholarship Festival to discuss playing for Montverde, what he’s looking for from a college program, why he thinks his new school St. Benedict’s Prep can go all the way and more.
By Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop
TheDribbleDrop: Let’s talk about this off season. This year you played AAU for Nike team Florida and the Tim Thomas Playaz. How was that experience?
Jake Betlow: I started off the AAU season playing for Nike Team Florida. At the time I was still in school and had to play for a team in the area. Once the summer came and I moved back home, I started to play for the Tim Thomas Playaz. I had a great experience. We played in Rumble in the Bronx and we played well in that one. Overall the Nike EYBL circuit provides a great experience.
TheDribbleDrop: Your freshman year you played at Gil St. Bernards. You got off to a great start, as you were selected as “Freshman of the year” by NJ.com.
Tell us about your time at Gil and why did you decided the move on to Montverde.
Jake Betlow: The experience at Gil was something I had been looking forward to since I was in the 5th grade. Coach Sina has been like a family member to me. Paul, Alex and the rest of those guys are some of my best friends. Our plan since we were little was to go to Gil and win a state championship. My first year we made it to the sectional final and lost to Roselle Catholic. It was a great experience. Making that deep run added a sense of maturity to the young guys on the roster as well. I loved every bit of my time at Gil.
As far as leaving, it was nothing against Coach or any player there. It was just one of those things, that if you’re asked to go play play for Montverde and you are going to have a shot to play on a national schedule on one the #1 ranked team in America, it’s very hard to say no. It’s one of those things you could look back at when you’re older and say “what could’ve happened?”
It took me a long time to make that decision. It was a lot of factors that went into that and I talked to a lot of people before I made my choice. I made my decision and I don’t regret it.
TheDribbleDrop: Last year you transfered down south and played at Montverde. Tell me about your experience playing under coach Kevin Boyle.
Jake Betlow: I had an amazing time at Montverde. It was amazing playing with that caliber of talent everyday in practice. We also played a national schedule and played against the best all over. I’m really close with a lot of the guys from that team. Shoutouts to Andrew, Grant, Marcus, R.J. and the entire team and staff. Those guys are on the team are some of my best friends still.
I don’t regret going down there at all. Being that far from home forced me to mature a bit, which was a good thing. Coach Boyle and the entire staff do a great job getting you ready. They provided a lot of resources to get me better. I came away from that experience more stronger, more athletic and more skilled than ever.
TheDribbleDrop: You now play for St. Benedict's Prep. Tell me why this was the perfect fit for you.
Jake Betlow: So I have known Coach Taylor for some time. The entire staff is great at developing players and getting them prepared to excel at the next level. St. Benedict's has a great reputation of producing players. It was one of those situations that made sense.
I wanted to live at home the last two years before college and be near my family. The commute is pretty tough as I travel close to an hour to get to school everyday but it’s definitely worth it. I’m super excited for the next two years and what’s to come.
TheDribbleDrop: You’re going to be playing point guard full time on the collegiate level. What have you done in the off season to refine your skills for the collegiate level?
Jake Betlow: Well everyone knows me as a shooter, but I think one thing that some people overlook is that I take pride in being a good decision maker. I worked hard on my ball handling so that I can handle myself during pressure situations.
I’ve studied guards with similar physical attributes like myself. The people that are the most successful are the ones that play extremely under control. They are always composed. They can get in the lane and not necessarily have their mind set on one thing. They get in the paint, probe and make the right decision. Using the mental aspects of the game.
TheDribbleDrop: Right now you are uncommitted, but will surely be playing college basketball. What is one thing you are looking for from a program?
Jake Betlow: I’m for the best fit for me overall. Their style, what they run on offense and their coach. I’m looking for a situation where I’m able to play all four years and graduate from a good school.
In regards to style of play, I mean a style of play that works. You see a bunch of teams that go up and down and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I want to play for a successful program that knows who they are and doesn’t try to fit what’s in and be anyone else.
TheDribbleDrop: You guys were selected by USA Today as one of the top 20 high school teams in America. What do you think makes you guys stand out?
Jake Betlow: Our ability to score. We have a lot of different weapons. Having that many guys make it very hard to lock in on anyone. The fact that we have so many dominant scorers makes the game easier. We have a lot of options player wise and anyone can get hot quick.
We also have a lot of size and depth. We can rotate players in without a drop off.
TheDribbleDrop: Today you played in the Scholarship Festival versus Hudson Catholic at Kean University. Describe the pace of the game, the turnout and how you guys played overall.
Jake Betlow: It was a tough environment and I think our guys handled it pretty well. The coaches did a great job getting us ready for this one. I love playing in front of a big crowd and putting on a show. That’s what we did today.
TheDribbleDrop: What’s your personal and team goal for your junior year?
Jake Betlow: We’re trying to win a national championship. We want to be number one. We want to go undefeated. All we are focused on is getting to the top. I think we can do it if we all play together and use all our weapons.