Jakob Alamudun underwent a big growth spurt prior to enrolling at Marina High.
The leap proved beneficial to his basketball career. While he said he stood about 5-foot-10 in eighth grade, Alamudun became 6-4 as a freshman.
Since then, the senior shooting guard has grown just about an inch, to 6-5. The bigger transformation during his four-year varsity career with the Vikings has been his mentality.
Alamudun and the Vikings earned a huge win on Jan. 5 at Edison, upsetting the Chargers 56-55 in a Sunset Conference crossover game. It was Marina’s first victory against Edison in 11 years, and the first in coach Nick Racklin’s eight-year tenure. Edison had beaten Marina 20 straight times.
Alamudun led Marina with 18 points. But it was the shot that he didn’t take at the end that spoke to his growth in Racklin’s mind.
The Chargers took a 55-53 lead after Edison’s Aiden Garrett made two free throws with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Alamudun took the inbound pass under the Chargers’ basket and sped up the left sideline.
“In past years, I would have just shot that ball regardless,” he said. “I would have just let it go. But I had to trust my teammates.”
The teammate in this case was freshman guard Eric Hodgkins, who took Alamudun’s pass and buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
The Vikings celebrated wildly, and Alamudun, a Lehigh signee, was in the middle of it all. The program has come a long way, even since he entered it as a freshman.
Marina (12-10) won two of its four conference crossover games against Surf League foes this season. Alamudun nearly had a triple-double in the Vikings’ 75-57 home win over Los Alamitos on Dec. 17, finishing with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
For the season, Alamudun is averaging 19 points, 7.5 rebounds and a career-best 4.8 assists per game. Racklin said he is the best player to play for the Vikings in his eight-year tenure, adding that Alamudun also is the first Division 1 signee in the program since Cherokee Parks, who graduated from Marina in 1991 and went on to play at Duke and have a 10-year career in the NBA.
Alamudun also is familiar with the professional game.
“He watches a lot of NBA, and so I keep talking to him about Russell Westbrook, the guys that are always flirting with a triple-double every night,” said Racklin, a former assistant coach at Cal State Monterey Bay. “Draymond Green, those kinds of guys. Last year and even the year before, he was scoring 22 or 24 points a game – on 24 shots. This year, he’s being more efficient with the shots he’s getting. I think he’s learning the value of passing.
“We’ve had games this year where he’s had eight or 10 points and 10 assists, and he doesn’t care. He used to care.”
Still, Alamudun has improved his shooting. He’s come a long way since he started playing travel basketball in the seventh grade. He’s stayed with the same club, Cali Rebels.
“I was really into football, but there was a weight limit [for my grade] so I couldn’t play,” he said. “Basketball was the only thing I could play. My mom [Maggie] was just like, whatever to get me active.”
Active is a good way to describe the soft-spoken Alamudun, one of two team captains along with senior center Dean Keeler. Junior guard Ethan Barnella is the other returning starter from last year for the Vikings, who opened Wave League play Friday night with a 74-43 rout against rival Huntington Beach in the “Oil vs. Water” rivalry matchup. Alamudun led the way with 27 points.
Alamudun wants the Vikings to return to the CIF playoffs for the third time in his four years in the program. A league title also appears to be a realistic goal. They have stayed the course through a tough nonleague schedule. Of Marina’s 10 losses, four have come by three points or fewer.
That trend stopped in a big way against Edison. To Racklin, Alamudun is the ideal player to represent what the Vikings are all about.
“He lives in our gym,” Racklin said. “He might as well have a key. He’s got a work ethic like I’ve never seen before in a high school kid, and our guys have sort of taken to that, especially our younger guys. They all want to get in the gym now, just because he’s always in the gym. He set the tone for us, hopefully for a long time.”
Born: Feb. 27, 2001
Hometown: Oklahoma City
Height: 6 feet 5
Weight: 215 pounds
Coach: Nick Racklin
Favorite food: Fettuccini Alfredo
Favorite movie: The “Rocky” series
Favorite athletic moment: Winning the Adidas Summer Championships last summer with his AAU team, the Cali Rebels, at the Ladera Sports Center in Ladera Ranch.