Jakob Poeltl. Jakob who? If you haven’t heard of this young man that is a shame, but it is certainly understandable as well. This young sophomore center for the Utah Utes is one of those players that just goes about his business on the basketball court, doesn’t make a fuss about it, and can flat out dominate a game. He is up for Pac-12 Player of the Year and should certainly be in the conversation for All-American status in 2016. Poeltl is a player that people should start focusing on as the Pac-12 Tournament gets going this week and then the NCAA Tournament gets rolling.
The anchor down low for the Utah Utes is a player that people will notice because of his size, but not necessarily notice the stats he puts up. Why is that? For one, Poeltl is a very quiet, unassuming type of kid. He’s not really out there pounding his chest saying “Look at me!” He lets his statistics just speak for themselves and they have spoken loud and clear this season for the Utes. He nearly averaging a double-double this season while creating defensive nightmares for opposing teams in the Pac-12.
Currently, Jakob Poeltl is averaging 17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, and 1.9 apg. His field goal percentage is off the charts as well at 66 percent, but it also helps that he is seven feet tall to help maintain that high percentage. He averages nearly two blocks a game and that helps to create that presence in the middle for Utah. If one of their guards gets beat on the perimeter, Poeltl is there for help and to send a shot back if necessary.
Jakob Poeltl is a slight seven-footer. He’s not tipping the scales at 275-plus, he’s only weighing in at 235 pounds, so he’s a guy that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger guys in the low post. Obviously, getting bigger in size and weight is going to be something as he progresses through his college years and into the NBA. This is the one area in his game that he needs to pay attention to because coaches want their big men around the basket and not settling for their outside game. Coaches want a low post presence when they have a seven-footer.
Can he add the weight? Let’s hope so. Otherwise people may start to look at him as one of those typical European players who is strictly an “outside” big man and not somebody that can pound the inside on the offensive end.
Jakob Poeltl excels on the defensive end of the court. His coaches love the fact that he doesn’t allow other big men to get set up deep on their offensive end. He doesn’t allow that deep seal set up and has learned how to push the opposing big man off his desired spot on the block. Just ask Arizona center, Kaleb Tarczewski about how effective Poeltl was against him. Tarczewski was bottled up against Poeltl when the two Pac-12 giants played each other.
What are his chances at ending up in the NBA? According to some NBA scouts, he should be a Top 10 NBA Draft pick in 2016, if he comes out early. Some mock drafts have him in the top five, some have him the top 10. It depends on which mock drafts you look at. Scouts love the defensive presence that he has already. They love that he has a high ceiling, and that he can still get much better on the offensive side of the ball. He will certainly be an intriguing player to watch in the NBA Draft Lottery.
First thing is first though. He has to complete his sophomore season at Utah and try to get his Utes to win the Pac-12 Tournament, then get his team to make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament. The more success the Utah Utes have, the more name recognition Jakob Poeltl will have amongst basketball fans. I, for one, am already sold on this young man from Austria, but now it’s time for the rest of the country to be sold on Jakob Poeltl.