A simple YouTube search of “Jacob Heese” yields a handful of high school highlight tapes, some energetic dance projects and precisely five videos of a gangling 13-year-old dunking a basketball on an 8-foot rim.
Heese had to dunk, doggone it. And if his boyhood fantasy required a miniature hoop, then so be it.
So he dunked and dunked and dunked some more. And by his freshman year, that little basket in the driveway no longer sufficed. He had finally graduated to the regulatory 10-foot rim.
Sometimes, that’s not high enough.
Heese has since sprouted into a strapping 6-foot-4-inch, 18-year-old senior who attends Desert Oasis, and, with a 39-inch vertical jump, is the highest of high-flyers in the Las Vegas Valley.
He has the all-around game to complement his athleticism, to boot, and is drawing Division I interest while averaging 27.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.8 steals for a Diamondbacks team that is 16-7 and poised to win 20 games for the first time in program history.
“He’s a freak of nature,” Desert Oasis coach Joseph Bedowitz said. “The way that he can jump is crazy to me. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Heese explained that “it was just a dream of mine to always be known as the guy that can dunk, and be the white guy that dunks, mostly,” and he fulfilled that goal before his ninth-grade year.
But he worked, tirelessly, to cultivate the rest of his skillset.
Heese’s varsity basketball career began at Desert Oasis during the 2015-16 season, and he averaged 10.4 points as a sophomore in a tertiary role.
He started lifting weights at his house — drawing inspiration from musclebound professionals such as LeBron James and Dwight Howard — and simulating game-like situations in any gym he could access to prep for a feature role with Desert Oasis.
Bedowitz took over the Diamondbacks before the 2016-17 season and unleashed Heese, who averaged 23.9 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior, earning all-state honors.
College programs noticed, and he received a scholarship offer from Division I South Carolina Upstate while competing with local travel squad Rip City.
“I took it upon myself to make sure people would know my name when they heard it,” he said. “I wanted people to know … what I was capable of, no matter if it was shooting threes, getting to the basket, dunking and everything.”
Heese committed to the Spartans in the fall, but reneged after their coach resigned in October. South Carolina Upstate is still in the picture, he said, and Stephen F. Austin, Oregon State and Washington State are recruiting him, too, as he rewrites Desert Oasis’ record books.
This season, he’s established single-game school records for points, free throws, field goals and 3-pointers, and teammate Kamari Burnside is as impressed with his demeanor as he is with his bounciness.
“He’s a leader on the court,” Burnside said. “He plays hard. He likes to lead others and not just do it himself. He brings everybody in to play as a team.”
And, no, Burnside hasn’t seen anybody jump like Heese.
Not in Las Vegas.
Heese’s 2017-18 averages
FG: 52 percent
Single-game school records
Field goals: 16
Free throws: 18