By David Headrick
During his star basketball/baseball days at Provo High School, Jake Chrisman, now a 6”8″ sophomore pitcher for the Cougar baseball team, noticed that a girl had her books knocked out of her hands.
In the crowd of nearby students, he was the first to walk over and pick them up, said Craig Drury, Chrisman”s basketball coach at Provo High.
Rick Chrisman, Jake”s father, said Jake showed his concern for those who didn”t seem to have any friends in high school, just by saying hello.
“He”s an extreme competitor,” Drury said. “But he is one of the nicest kids in the world.”
A two-sport athlete, Chrisman has recorded numbers in both basketball and baseball that speak loudly.
He lettered in basketball all four years at Provo High, averaging 23 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks as a senior.
That same year, Jake helped lead the Bulldogs to the state championship game while being named the region”s Most Valuable Player.
Drury, who coached at Provo for 24 years, was with Jake for all four of his basketball seasons.
“He is one of the best players to ever play for me,” Drury said, ranking Jake among Provo High players like Mekeli Wesley, who was a senior when Jake was a freshman.
“Both will compete with anyone, anytime, anywhere,” Drury said.
Not only comparable to great Provo players, during his senior year, Chrisman matched up well against Tyson Chandler of Dominguez High School in California, Drury said.
Chandler, dubbed by Drury as the next Shaq, was the number one draft choice for the Chicago Bulls and the second pick overall in June 2001.
As a freshman on the 2000-2001 Cougar basketball team, Jake appeared in 29 of 33 games, averaging 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game.
He had a season-high of 15 points in 20 minutes at the season opener against Elon College.
Baseball is another one of Jake”s loves.
He is red shirting basketball this season to concentrate on baseball, a tough feat to accomplish.
BYU baseball coach Vance Law, a two-sport Cougar from 1974-1978, played both baseball and basketball. He said he understands what it is like to juggle school and two sports simultaneously.
“I did that when I was a player here as well,” Law said. “So, I understand it probably better than most.”
“However, it”s more difficult now, because baseball plays more games than we did when I was a player here,” he said.
Law said he will support Jake in whatever decision he makes.
As Jake juggles between baseball and basketball, he said he shares the yearnings of every kid.
“Every kid dreams of playing in the Major Leagues,” he said. “I want to see where baseball can take me.”
Jake has some good experience for his baseball resume.
During his senior year at Provo, Jake was selected all-state in baseball, recording 10 wins, 96 strike outs, six home runs and 11 steals with a .426 batting average.
Last year, Jake had eight appearances for 11.1 innings and a 7.15 ERA with an 0-2 record.
Although his record is the same this year at 0-2, Jake pitched a good game at Hawaii-Hilo, Feb. 25.
Pitching just 4.2 innings, Jake allowed only two hits and struck out seven Vulcans, before the Pacific rains caused the game to be cancelled.
Jake was well on his way to getting his first win of the season, but his pitching was no competition against the strong, tropical rains as they cut the Cougars” road trip short.
Jake”s competitive nature has their roots at home.
He grew up with sports in his Provo home. His father, Rick, was a right fielder for the Cincinnati Reds organization.
Even though Jake never saw his father play professionally, he viewed his father as an example, Jake said.
“Just growing up, knowing that my dad played baseball, I always wanted to impress him and do what he did,” Jake said.
“Just knowing he was a pro motivated me and Jed to excel,” he said.
Jed, Jake”s older brother, is a senior right fielder at the University of Utah.
Rick said he remembers the competition between his two sons as they grew up.
“They would try to ”one up” each other on everything,” he said.
“Jessica (Jake”s sister) was probably right in the middle of them, and every bit as competitive as the boys,” Rick said. “Each one is each other”s biggest fans.”
That may present some problems for the family when the Cougars take on Utah, April 4-6 and May 9-11.
Last year, Jake pitched against a Jed-less Utah team, helping the Cougars to a 14-13 win. Jed was absent the whole season due to a leg injury.
“Me and Jed have always had a competition between us,” Jake said. “I”m looking forward to that Utah game.”
“I missed the chance last year, but this year it will be a fun competition,” he said.