Many times in life we don't get to write our own script. This was the case for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Senio Guard Jake Kocher. A broken wrist abruptly brought his career to an end. What's so unusual about this you say? In this case it was what Kocher had accomplished that made his return to the court for his senior season quite remarkable.
Kocher, the baby faced assassin from toney West Austin was the Capital City's all time leading prep scorer (2500 points) coming out of high school at Austin St Michael's Academy. Kocher didn't need basketball to go to college but he played every game with a swagger as if he was the hungriest kid from the toughest neighborhood. That's what made him special.
After several productive seasons, Kocher had endeared himself as one of Coach Willis Wilson's favorite players. Then it all went wrong as Kocher suffered not one but two torn hip labrums. It was thought his career was over. At least that's what everyone but Jake thought.
As he fast forwarded on his way to a marketing degree he also worked in the Indiana Pacers front office as a summer intern. I'd gotten a call from former SMU Coach Matt Doherty who was doing scouting for the Pacers and after giving him feedback on potential draft choice Cory Jefferson (who was also a Texas D1 Ambassadors alumni), I mentioned to him the one of my guys (Jake) was working in the front office with him. Coach Doherty said, "Oh, Jake from State Farm" and we had a laugh about it. I remember telling Coach D, "treat that young man nicely or he may just buy the franchise..lol"
Kocher went through the hip labrum operations and against all odds, when everyone else thought he was finished he was pronounced healthy after tortuous rehab sessions and his scholaship was reinstated for his senior year. Shortly after the New Year, Kocher broke his wrist going after a loose ball and just like that his college career ended. Jake, we salute you as one of our toughest, smartest and passionate Texas D1 alumni of all time. Now you can finish up your master's degree and move on into the private sector as the young man with the million dollar smile. Jake, we honor you today on this your 23rd birthday.-Coach Ivany and the D1 Nation Family.
Jake is the son of Joel Kocher and Susan King of Austin, TX.
When former Rice COach Willis Wilson took over a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi program that had been devastated by scholarship sanctions, academic ruin and poor basketball performance his priority was to get guys in who could play, but also high character players who would not embarrass the university and to set a foundation to do things "the right way."
One of those first signees was Austin's Jake Kocher. I think it's fair to say that was a pretty good choice. Jake worked his way into the rotation as a freshman during a year where Wilson's charges won only five games. Kocher then lost his sophomore season to two trips under the knife (his first pair of hip surgeries).
It was in his red shirt sophomore season tha Jke began to break out. He averaged 8 ppg and was 3rd in the Southland Conference in steals. He was also named to the All Southland Academic squad and was a finalist for the All State Good Hands Team. Perhaps most important though was his earning of Coach Wilson's Islander Award which is given to the player who best embodies the Character, Toughness and Grit of Wilson's philosophy.
Jake was also the ESPN Player of the Game vs Lamar and was a key component in the Islanders near miraculous turnaround from a 5 win to 18 win team. This team also won 2 games in the season ending CIT Tournament. All this was accomplished while playing in excruciating pain on two hips which hadn't healed properly. That was Kocher's first "retirement".
A newer version of hip labrum surgery was still in it's stages of infancy but none the less available and once again Jake went under the knife. After another grueling season of rehab he entered the 2015-16 season with excitement. Once again he clawed his way into the rotation playing solid minutes off the bench on a 19-5 team when the unfortunate broken wrist occurred.
Interestingly, Kocher could technically petition the NCAA for a potential 6th year. Stay tuned to see if there's another chapter in this warrior's book which has not been written.