NORTH EAST — Tri-State Christian graduate Jacob Falko enjoyed his share of success on the Cecil College basketball court.
The reigning two-time All-County Player of the Year, who finished his high school career with over 2,000 points scored, played his way onto three consecutive all-tournament teams while competing at the college’s annual Green N’ Gold Holiday basketball tournament.
Now, the 6-2 playmaker from Rising Sun will be calling Cecil College home after he signed his letter of intent Monday to continue his basketball career with the Seahawks, a member of the NJCAA. The freshman point guard is expected to play one season with Cecil before transferring to a larger institution.
“I’m really excited. It’s been a fun four years in high school but I’m ready to play college. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while,” Falko said. “It’s a lot harder to play college, obviously, but I think I’m ready. I just want to play some really good competition.
“Any chance to play at the college level is great, my parents can come to every game now and my family is always going to be here since I’m so close. I’m going to enjoy playing here.”
Falko graduated high school following a senior campaign in which he averaged 23.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.2 steals per game.
His final game in-county saw him score 48 points in a loss to rival West Nottingham Academy in the MIL Championship game at North East High. One week earlier, he capped his regular season with a 35-point, 11-rebound double-double performance in a non-conference win over Elkton, a Cecil County public school.
“It was amazing going to Tri-State. I couldn’t imagine going to any other public school or anything like that. Everybody around me bought into passing me the ball and wanted me to succeed, especially the coaches. It made scoring pretty easy for me,” admitted Falko, who will likely continue playing point guard for Cecil. “I really love passing, driving and dishing to the open man. I really like to get in the lane, but if they’re covering me, I can shoot the 3-ball. I feel like with the ball in my hand, nobody can stop me. I’m so comfortable with it in my hands rather than playing off the ball. I get to choose what I want to do with it.”
Falko made history on Feb. 13 when he scored his 2,000th career point in a win over Tome.
“He needs the challenge of this. You saw him play last year against all the county teams, he could get to the bucket any time he wanted against most of the schools. He’ll need to improve on his jump shot here and hopefully they’ll get him ready for the next level,” Tri-State head coach Bill Smith said. “It’s cool to see local talent being recruited by the college here. Jacob, we’ve known for a long time would be [playing in college]. He’s really going to put some butts in the stands. He’s fun to watch.”
Cecil head coach Ed Durham watched Falko closely during his high school career. He was present for the holiday tournaments and watched him play when the college hosted previous MIL tournaments.
Falko’s older brother, Jonathon, who earned All-County honors in 2016, played for Cecil last winter, finishing the season fifth on the team in points per game. He ended the year having earned all-tournament honors for his effort in helping the Seahawks reach the Division II Region XX Tournament title game.
“What I liked about Jon and Jake is the fact they compete. They’re not afraid of anything, they’re not afraid of anybody. No one outworks them. Jacob comes into the gym, his brother is here, they’re looking to get better every day. That’s the type of guys you want,” Durham said. “What’s going to be nice is the fact I’ve kind of learned [Jacob Falko’s] game watching him multiple times, not only here but other places. We already talked. We know some of the things he needs to work on.
“I kid him all the time that he needs to get his brother’s jump shot and his brother needs to get his ball-handling skills. All the other intangibles are there and you can’t teach what he has from a competitive standpoint.”
Falko is the first All-County boys’ basketball Player of the Year to join the Seahawks since 2014 graduate Joe Giles, of North East, suited up for Cecil the following winter.
“In college, it’s more of a like a system, so I have find my way to fit in. In high school, I was the guy there and basically did whatever I wanted. In college it will be a little bit different,” Falko said. “We’ll see what happens. My goal is to play one year here and hopefully go to a four-year school.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig