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George's success at Carmel well worth the weight
 

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George's success at Carmel well worth the weight
  • Carmel's 6-foot-10 center Jack George has helped Carmel to a 17-3 record and one of its best seasons in years.

    Purchase Photo | Carmel's 6-foot-10 center Jack George has helped Carmel to a 17-3 record and one of its best seasons in years. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Carmel's 6-foot-10 center Jack George has helped Carmel to a 17-3 record and one of its best seasons in years.

    Purchase Photo | Carmel's 6-foot-10 center Jack George has helped Carmel to a 17-3 record and one of its best seasons in years. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Carmel's 6-foot-10 center Jack George has helped Carmel to a 17-3 record and one of its best seasons in years.

    Purchase Photo | Carmel's 6-foot-10 center Jack George has helped Carmel to a 17-3 record and one of its best seasons in years. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 

For now, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will stay on the menu.

But you get the feeling that the old, lovable staple is on a short leash with Jack George.

Story Continues Below

The Carmel center is starting to have his fill.

"I'm pretty much always eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," George said. "I mean, it's three or four a day or more. It's getting a little old. I'm getting sick of peanut butter and jelly."

But George is also sick of getting pushed around. So he eats.

George, who is averaging a double-double (17 ppg, 11 rpg) this season for the 17-3 Corsairs, has found that loading up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, entire pizzas and pretty much anything he wants at any time of the day is the best way for him to increase his chances of playing basketball next year in college.

He needs to add some width to his height and put some weight on his 6-foot-10, 205-pound frame.

"It's the No. 1 thing I need to work on," George said of his weight. "That and my strength. I need to get bigger and stronger.

"I just have a really fast metabolism right now. I'm eating a ton of pizza. Sometimes I'll eat an entire pizza before I go to bed. I drink protein shakes, too. My doctor told me that when I stop growing upward, I'll start growing outward. But I keep growing."

George, for the moment, is in a size 15 shoe. He can't buy any of his clothes in stores. They're all special-ordered online.

He's been on a steep growth spurt ever since eighth grade, when he was 6-foot-2 and dunking.

"The first time I dunked, it was pretty awesome," George said.

Now, the dunk requests are constant.

"When you're 6-foot-10, people expect you to be dunking like an NBA player on every play," George said. "Whenever I get the ball, it's like 'Dunk it, dunk it!' But it's not as easy as it looks. If I had the explosiveness to dunk on every play, I would be in the NBA.

"But I still have 10 dunks already this season. That's pretty good."

Even better are George's other skills. He's worked hard to grow into his body over the last couple of years, and has been a big reason Carmel is in the midst of one of its best two-year runs in decades. Last year, George helped the Corsairs reach the Class 3A sectional championship game. This year, they're off to one of their best starts ever.

"From where he was two years ago to where he is now, it's night and day," Carmel coach Tim Bowen said of George. "There aren't too many kids with his size. And now he's got skills that a lot of big guys don't have. The biggest change in his game is that he can assert himself in any game, and he can take over a game."

On defense, George has become an intimidating shot-blocker, averaging more than 3 blocks per game. His rebounding is relentless. In Carmel's 58-47 victory over Lake Zurich on Monday in the championship game of the Martin Luther King tournament at LZ, George had 15 rebounds, including 8 in one quarter.

Meanwhile, in the half-court set, George is good at holding his position on the block and then using a variety of moves to smoothly get to the basket. His baseline spin is his favorite.

"I catch the ball on the low block, feel where the guy is and do a quick spin," George said. "A lot of times, I'll go for a dunk or a reverse layup. It's a good move for me.

"I've also worked a lot on my mid-range game and putting the ball on the floor. I pride myself in being a versatile player for a big guy."

George also takes a lot of pride in his jokes and funny story-telling.

He considers himself the team jokester.

"I love making other people laugh," George said. "I'm definitely a goofball and I like to joke around, tell funny stories and look at things in a happier light. I just love life, I guess."

George certainly appreciates life.

He learned that lesson way too early.

When he was just an eighth grader, he grappled with a horrific loss.

"My best friend, Matt Hupp, died of cancer at the beginning of my eighth grade year," George said. "It was very traumatic, to watch him go up and down and to think that he had it beat and then to watch it come back again.

"It was horrible and I miss him so much, but dealing with that definitely changed me and shaped me to be the person I am today. I decided then that I should live life to the fullest and not spend too much time being upset, that's it's better to just be happy.

"I think it was also a turning point in my basketball career. I decide to take things more seriously and to push myself to accomplish things for my friend."

Right now, George has his sights firmly set on a basketball scholarship. He says he's getting looks from multiple Division I schools.

"All the coaches say that Jack's got great skills, but some of them are worried about the physicality part of it," Bowen said. "But he's going to keep adding weight and strength and I think we're going to hear a lot about Jack by the time he's a junior and senior in college (and filled out).

"Someone is going to get a steal on that kid."

In the meantime, like it or not, George is going to make sure that those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches keep coming.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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