Jake Stokker made a point of attacking the basket more in his final season with the Pen High Lakers senior team. Stokker will join the UBC-O Heat next fall and plans to continue working on that aspect of his game. Emanuel Sequeira/Western News

VIDEO-Aggressive approach helped Laker

Jake Stokker is taking his evolving skills to the UBC-O Heat men’s basketball team.

Jake Stokker is taking his evolving skills to the UBC-O Heat men’s basketball team.

Once Stokker, named an all-star during the 4A Okanagan Valley senior boys basketball championship, met with Heat coach Pete Guarasci, he knew it was the right place to continue playing.

“I’m really excited to see my development,” said Stokker.

After a slow start, Stokker realized he needed to pick up his aggressiveness. Over the course of the season, it got better and by season’s end, he knew he was giving the Lakers everything he had. He led them in every statistical category. Stokker also knew he had to change his approach a bit. Last year he shot more and didn’t attack the rim. He added that and strength to his package over the summer, which helped him be successful in that area. This spring/summer, Stokker is returning to the Junior Heat program as an overager and plans to continue playing with an aggressive style.

“Next year I won’t be able to get to the hoop as easy,” he said. “I’ll definitely have to improve that part of my game. Playing with men, it’s a totally different game.”

Stokker is confident he will continue developing properly because he is a hard worker and trusts the process.

Guarasci said Stokker is a good, character kid, who is also focused. Athletically, listed at six-foot-four, the coach likes his size and aggressiveness.

“He’s got a decent skillset. I’m not sure what position he is going to play at this point, but I feel like he will find his niche, his spot on the court,” said Guarasci. “I think he has to make the transition just like any other high school athlete to be at the level. He’s going to continue to get stronger. That makes the jump so much easier. It’s finding how your game will fit at the next level. What you can do to be effective.”

Guarasci said recruiting Okanagan Valley players is very important, especially for local athletes to know the Heat program is one they can come to and develop.

“To be competitive at the university level, you need to recruit nationally and sometimes internationally,” he said. “Adding local players to provide depth and consistency. That’s very important.”

What sold Stokker, a future Pen High grad, to head to Kelowna next fall is the proximity, allowing his parents to watch him, as well as the education and the group of players he will play with.