The University of Northern British Columbia’s men’s basketball team has added a sharpshooter with northern roots, officially announcing the commitment of Jackson Netzel for the upcoming 2020-2021 Canada West season.
“I am stoked to play at the Canada West level and compete with the best teams and players in the nation, Netzel said. “I want to see what type of impact I can have on the next level of the game.
“This has always been the goal throughout high school, to try to play basketball at the next level. It took a lot of early mornings, hard work, and dedication to be able to be given the opportunity to try out for the team. Definitely all worth it, though.”
The six-foot-three Netzel was one of the top high school shooters in the province in 2018-2019 when he was a senior for Caledonia Secondary School. He started playing the game in Grade 8, before eventually starring for Coach Joe Dominguez with the Kermodes, who says the work ethic of the newest T-wolf sets him apart.
“Jackson is one of the hardest working players that went through our program,” said Dominguez. “The three years I coached him, he was often in the gym early in the morning working on his game. While playing he also maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school. He is a coachable young man and I look forward to seeing him play with the Timberwolves.”
The Terrace product was enrolled this year at UNBC, studying psychology at the Prince George campus. Timberwolves coach Todd Jordan knew of Netzel’s prowess on the court and invited him to train with the team at the Northern Sport Centre.
“UNBC was definitely the place for me to play,” Netzel said. “It lets me represent northern B.C., where I come from. The atmosphere, and the work ethic that the guys showed was something I want to be a part of, learn, and develop. It’s a great place for me to grow and become the best player I can be. All the coaches were super-welcoming and gave me the chance to prove myself. It was awesome.”
Jordan was impressed with Netzel’s skillset and competitive nature. He sees similarities between his newest shooting guard and a former Caledonia Kermode who had a historic career with the Timberwolves.
“Jackson was at UNBC this year, but chose not to try out for the team,” said Jordan. “Upon the conclusion of the season Jackson chose to participate with our team and I have been impressed by his work ethic and ability to shoot the basketball. His game is very similar stylistically to Marcus MacKay, who had a great career with us. Jackson played with our Junior Timberwolves program out of Terrace and we are always excited to have team members who have developed in part through our grassroots programming.”
The grassroots programming Jordan references is the Junior Timberwolves club in Terrace, where Netzel cut his teeth. Junior T-wolves coach Matt Lowndes says his former star has the mentality to make the jump to the university level.
“Jackson is hardworking northern BC athlete that will run through a wall for his teammates,” said Lowndes. “He is quality young man, that will represent UNBC with class. He has solid foundation and diverse skill-set that will allow him to play multiple positions. It’s exciting to see another Terrace product compete for UNBC. We look forward to seeing his growth as he develops at the next level.”
To watch Netzel play basketball is a lesson in confidence and understanding of how to get to where you want on the court. The long-limbed shooter often commanded double teams and ball-denial defense, but the 19-year-old was able to make an impact most trips up the floor.
“I have always played the game with a lot of intensity and a lot of passion,” he said. “It allows me to become completely invested in the game. My skillset revolves completely around shooting. That was my job in high school. That’s what you can expect from me at the next level. I am going to be putting up shots.”
Having spent a year away from competitive basketball, Netzel acknowledges he will face an adjustment period when making the leap to the U SPORTS level, however he has never been hungrier to play the game he loves.
“It’s going to be a learning experience,” said Netzel. “It’s going to be challenging. But I also know it’s going to be the start of the best time of my life. Being able to compete at the highest level of basketball in Canada for five years, I am going to try to set the tone my first year, and try to find my role on the team. See where I can fit in and the impact I can have. And definitely I want to make a playoff run, for sure.”
Due to COVID 19, the Canada West basketball schedule has been pushed back to begin in January. Netzel, who intends to pursue a career in physiotherapy, will join his teammates in Prince George this fall to prepare for his first season of university basketball and take the next step in a longtime dream.
“For me, basketball has always been an escape from real life,” he said. “Everything can melt away when you get on the court. Nothing else matters except playing. That’s the best feeling I have ever felt in the world, and probably will ever feel. Just playing the game and doing what I love.”