Doctors took one look at his size and bone structure, compared it with standard growth charts and delivered a quick estimate: Jacob Hughes would grow to be 7 feet 2 inches tall.
That was quite a startling conclusion to hear at the time, especially since Hughes was only 2 years old and no immediate family members had such extraordinary height.
But the pediatrician may have nailed it right on the head with that prediction. Hughes, who last month completed his sophomore year at Servite High School, already stands 6-11.
Doctors tell him he still has a few more inches to grow. His body agrees.
“I can still feel it in my knees,” Hughes says on a recent weekday afternoon.
What hasn’t been surprising is the attention he’s received from highly competitive AAU teams and college recruiters. Hughes received his first Pac-12 scholarship offer from Washington State on June 15, a day before his 17th birthday and the first day college coaches could contact underclassmen.
“That was pretty exciting,” Hughes says.
Basketball wasn’t much of a household topic until Hughes grew four inches between sixth and seventh grade to reach 6-6. A friend in junior high talked him into playing in a recreational league and that was his first exposure to competitive basketball. Not long after, Hughes joined his first AAU team, the OC Blazers.
“I fell in love with the game and got serious after that,” he says.
He grew another four inches before entering high school, where he attended Orange Lutheran as a 6-10 freshman, averaging about three points and two rebounds while coming off the bench.
He transferred to Servite after his first year and had to sit out the first two months of his sophomore season under CIF-Southern Section transfer rules. He averaged 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds over the next 15 games, then missed the season finale—a heartbreaking last-second loss to Esperanza in a second-round playoff game—after coming down with mononucleosis.
Other than having a penchant for falling into early foul trouble, Hughes complemented the Friars well last season. Now that last year’s most valuable player, Trevor Treinan, has graduated and moved on to Biola University, Servite coach John Morris is expecting Hughes to help fill the leadership void while also taking advantage of his stature on the floor.
“There are not many high school basketball teams in this area that can feature a big [player] like him,” Morris says.
Although the high school basketball season runs from late fall through most of the winter, the summers are just as important, as top players tend to face better overall competition and receive more exposure at AAU events across the country.
Hughes also wants to use this summer to further establish himself as an elite player in the talent-laden Trinity League.
“You’ve got to get into shape and you’ve got to establish how the rest of your year’s going to go,” Hughes says of this summer. “Mostly, for me, it’s been kind of a mentality thing, where I figure I’m 6-11 and I think I have the skills to be the best center in the league, if not one of the best players in the league. So, I think it’s just a mentality, ‘Go do it, you have all these skills, you have all the people behind you helping you out,’ so now you’ve just got to go do it.”
The sky’s the limit for Hughes.