After years of injury, East Providence's Jacobs bounces back

Senior basketball player is finally healthy again and helping the Townies succeed

By Mike Rego
Posted 2/20/24

The story of East Providence High School senior basketball standout Levi Jacobs is certainly one of pain, definitely one of perseverance and, for good measure, one of pride..."Townie Pride."

The …

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After years of injury, East Providence's Jacobs bounces back

Senior basketball player is finally healthy again and helping the Townies succeed


The story of East Providence High School senior basketball standout Levi Jacobs is certainly one of pain, definitely one of perseverance and, for good measure, one of pride..."Townie Pride."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Jacobs returned to the EPHS roster this winter after seeing some spot duty on varsity as a freshman during the ill-fated COVID-19 pandemic season of 2020-21, then suffering consecutive tears of the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in the same left knee the following winter and subsequent summer.

"For me being out two years, it definitely took me a while to adjust to get back playing organized basketball because I hadn't played in so long. And especially coming back to the varsity level, because I had never really played JV (junior varsity), so to come back to varsity was an adjustment for sure," Jacobs said at a recent practice as the Townies prepared for the postseason.

He continued, "The year started out a little slow, but it's been coming on. I have the trust of my teammates now. It was like a switch that just kind of turned on. It took me a while to regain my confidence."

Some three months ago, his basketball life was rekindled, initially by just taking the court healthy and eventually becoming an integral part of the Townies' top-half of the table finish in the Division I regular season standings and likely another trip to the Open State Championship Tournament that comes after.

Jacobs being back and productive is inspiring simply on its face. Having played in all 21 EPHS games (an achievement in and of itself), he's averaging exactly 10 points per game to date and shares the team-leading rebounding honors at six with his fellow post player, classmate and the equally impressive Kenaz Ochgwu, who paces the Townies at 12.6 ppg.

And that he is as nimble and explosive as he is, though likely not yet at his best in either, is pretty damn cool, too. Jacobs, of course, deserves all the credit, but he made special note of the crucial role athletic trainer Amanda Moran has made in his continued rehabilitation. He also acknowledged the contribution of Dr. Brett Owens, who performed each of his surgeries at the city-based University Orthopedics.

Moran and EPHS head coach Joe Andrade were actually there that fateful day Jacobs first tore up his knee. It occurred as he and long-time friend and former teammate Xavier Hazard were participating in tryouts prior to the '21-22 campaign. Jacobs went up to block a Hazard shot and came down hard on his left leg.

"It was really heartbreaking because I was never injured as a kid. I had never had an injury," Jacobs said of the initial tears. "So for me to go through that, to not playing — I couldn't even walk for like a month or two — was tough. And the rehab was tough, but I was with my trainer Amanda. She really helped me out both mentally and physically throughout the process."

Andrade recalls Jacobs' sophomore year injury vividly.

"I remember how he injured it the first time. He was going up to try to block X's shot and he just rolled over. The second time, looking back, he probably wasn't ready and he tore it again. So to do what he's done so far this year, I can't say enough about him," said Andrade. "For him to come back and be this productive it's incredible. He easily could have given up, but he stayed positive the whole time. He worked with our trainer Amanda every day. He was dedicated."

As mentioned, about 10 months later, and again as he was working out with Hazard anticipating a return to the court in the winter of 2022, Jacobs tore the same two key elements of the same left knee.

"That following summer I was trying to get back to playing live and I tore it again. I went to go make a move and I just tore it...same knee, same everything...twice," Jacobs recollected further. "I wanted to like quit, basically, but then I was like I don't know. I've been playing basketball my entire life. I don't really know how to do anything else, so it was like basketball or nothing. I just had to keep going, keep pushing."

Pushing brought him to this past fall when everything about the game he loves came together, though not without some internal reservations as well as some early difficulties.

"The first two or three games, I would literally just shake going on to the court," Jacobs said of how the '23-24 season began. "I was just scared of re-tearing it, not playing well. Eventually, once I started feeling good about myself, once the coaches started to trust me and my teammates had confidence and started trusting me, it's been going good ever since then."

Added Andrade, "I'm extremely proud of him. I never thought he would be able to come back and do what he's done this year, especially after being out for so long. After what he went through, I wasn't sure he would be ready by his senior year, but he said he would be and like I said he worked with Amanda every day. He didn't play much early in the year. He wasn't in his groove yet."

Jacobs found his form right around the turn of the calendar year. He gradually earned more playing time and started to produce at a greater rate. Seven times he's reached double figures in points since January 1, including a career-best 27 in EP's road victory over North Kingstown.

"Once we got back from the break...It's my senior year and if I didn't turn it on now, it was going to be over. It would be done, so I just said it's now or never and I've just been going crazy ever since then," Jacobs said, describing his play in the second half of the year.

Said Andrade, "I mean he's at about 10 points and six rebounds a game for the season, but remember he wasn't playing as much at the beginning of the year. Now he's more comfortable. If he was a junior, now we would looking at it and saying, wow, you're comfortable, how good can he be next year. But at least for him, he's able to enjoy his senior year. He's able to play here and then hopefully at the next level. He's years behind, but he has the work ethic. He has the skills. He can play somewhere. He just needs to find that right fit."

As for college, both player and coach agree he has work to do on nearly all facets of his game to become a capable performer at any level.

"I'm not where I should be as a senior. Skill-wise, there's still a lot more I can do, a lot farther I can go. I don't even feel like my knee if fully back. Like, I know I'm healthy and it's good enough to play on, but I don't think I'm back to 100 percent yet," Jacobs explained. "If I do go to college it will definitely be JUCO (junior  college), but I'm also thinking about doing a prep year. I just don't which way it will go yet. I'm still open to either option."

Added Andrade, "He would need to work on being a wing (guard/perimeter player), so his shot needs to get better and some of his moves. He is still behind when it comes to basketball knowledge and just a feel for the game, but that's understandable considering what he's been through."

Jacobs does believe some good came out of his time on the sidelines, things that will serve him well in the near term, saying "I feel like it helped me with my pace. I still just go all out, all energy, 100 miles per hour, but the injury definitely slowed me down, made me see the game more, kind of made me a better player in certain aspects."

Whatever the future holds, Jacobs will continue to put in the necessary time to be the player he feels he still can be, while also being extremely appreciative to have had this year, his senior year at EPHS.

"I'm just going to keep working, try to find an AAU team, get some film to send out to coaches, show them I can do my thing," Jacobs said. "But it definitely means a lot being able to play after missing two years and basically losing my whole high school career. So it's definitely special to be on the court. I don't take anything for granted."

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email