Valencia guard Jake Hlywiak using summer to improve game

Valencia shooting guard Jake Hlywiak puts up a layup in a CIF State Championship game against Cathedral Catholic at Valencia High School last season. Cory Rubin/The Signal

With seven seniors graduating from last season’s Foothill League title-winning boys basketball team, Valencia’s Jake Hlywiak is preparing for an even bigger role this upcoming season. 

While his senior season is still a few months away, Hlywiak has been preparing by getting as much time on the court as he can, with both the Valencia summer team and his AAU team, the Los Angeles Elite 17U Premier.

In 16 games playing with Valencia this summer, the Vikings went 11-5 and Hlywiak hit a whopping 84 3-pointers.

He set a Valencia record with 96 3-pointers last season in 34 games.

“I know I’m going to be keyed in on a lot next year, but I’m going to go and break that 3-point record,” Hlywiak said. “I played in 16 games this summer, which is 18 less than the regular season and made 84 three’s, so I’m going for that record.”

Hlywiak recently returned from the Great American Shoot-Out in Duncanville, Texas with his AAU team, which went 8-1 overall in the four-day tournament from July 11-14. 

The Los Angeles Elite 17U Premier went 2-0 in pool play and then won its first six games in the Championship White bracket to reach the final.

Hlywiak put up big numbers in several games, including a 20-point performance in the fourth round of the tourney and an 18-point outing in the quarterfinal matchup, including four makes from downtown.

He went 3-for-6 from long range and scored 12 points in the opening game of the tournament, which also happened to be his birthday.

“It was a fun one, especially that first day we played was my birthday so I got to spend my birthday in Duncanville,” Hlywiak said with a laugh. “We had to play the next day at 8:30 so our coach took us out to dinner, we went to a nice local Cracker Barrel out there.”

Hlywiak recorded 11 points and four rebounds in a 55-52 victory over BTI Elite 2020 in the semifinal matchup. 

In the final game against BTI Select 2020, a team from Pasadena, Hlywiak and his teammates fell 73-66.

The senior-to-be scored eight points and logged two steals in the loss.

“We played some pretty good teams out there. I would say the California competition is where it’s at,” he said. “The whole experience was fun, just being out there with my teammates, bonding, going out, getting the full Texas experience.”

In addition to getting as much time on the hardwood as possible this summer, Hlywiak has been hitting the weight room to bulk up for the upcoming season.

He plans on gaining five to 10 pounds in muscle over the next three months as he prepares for a heavy workload as Valencia’s leader and No. 1 option not only on offense, but defense as well.

“I’ve been trying to lift as much as I can and also eating, keeping track of how much I eat and get appropriate amounts, not at a calorie deficit,” Hlywiak said. “Also the lateral quickness for defense, I think that will kind of separate me on that side.”

The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter, who saw his fair share of double teams last season, will now be the focal point of the opposing team’s defense.

In order to combat the added defensive pressure, Hlywiak thinks his passing ability will come into play even more this season. 

“I think I’m going to get those assist numbers up. Maybe I have to start watching some Trae Young high school tapes,” he said. “I saw some of his stuff when he was getting doubled, throwing it through guys’ legs, so maybe I’ll pull that out of the bag this year.”

Hlywiak is looking forward to putting his silky stroke to the test this weekend, as he is vying for a spot in the Prep Hoops Circuit Hustle Region 3-point competition at the Momentous Sports Center in Irvine.

It will be the last AAU event of the summer for Hlywiak, who will then get back to lifting as the regular season approaches.

You can vote for Hlywiak to participate in the 3-point contest at Voting ends at 3 p.m. PDT today. 

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