Maurice Dixon @WriturRece
Point guards in the Ohio Valley Conference won’t have to worry about trying to contain Paul Jackson anymore but their counterparts in the Mid-American Conference will, beginning in the latter half of 2017 when Jackson suits up for Eastern Michigan.
After two seasons at Eastern Kentucky, Jackson decided to head further north from his hometown of Atlanta and finish his collegiate career in Ypsilanti, where NBA great George “The Iceman” Gervin also made a name for himself along with Earl Boykins and Grant Long, who both played in the NBA for a number of years as well.
“It seemed like a great fit and me and the coach [Rob Murphy] got along well and all of the guys seemed like my type of guys,” Jackson said. “It’s more of a family-oriented program. I know I can play there for the next two years. It’s 10 hours away but I’m not tripping. I’m grown now so I’m ready for the new adventure.”
Prior to his decision to depart from Eastern Kentucky, Jackson, who changed his jersey number back to No. 2 like in high school, started 20 of 30 games opposed to just two starts in 24 contests as a freshman and his time on floor increased from 10 minutes to 27 minutes as a sophomore.
Jackson also averaged seven points and five assists (compared to two points and two assists in 2015-16) and Colonels’ fans witnessed an increase in his field-goal percentage (38 percent to 45), 3-point percentage (25 percent to 42) and free-throw percentage (47 percent to 67) while Jackson used his tight handle to put pressure on the opposition.
“I really got an opportunity this year to prove myself a little bit more than my freshman year,” Jackson said. “Freshman year, I didn’t get an opportunity to play the first semester. I started playing second semester so after having that little bit of experience from my first year and working during the summer real hard, I just felt like I was better prepared than I was my freshman year. I had a group of good guys around me. I was able to do some good things on the court this year.”
Check out the highlights below to see Jackson do some of those good things on the hardwood during his final season at Eastern Kentucky.
After hearing a sermon on Sunday morning from his father Bishop Wiley Jackson at Gospel Tabernacle in Atlanta, the 6-1 point guard had a moment to speak with Mobasketball.net about other basketball topics and more.
The first time I saw you play, you were a sophomore at Martin Luther King in Lithonia. Now, you are halfway through your college career.
It is really a blessing. I thank God for being where I am. I’m just excited to finish my college career strong.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, you will have to sit out a year. How are you approaching that situation?
I’m looking forward to this being a good, hard year of work–getting better.
What lessons do you take from your two seasons at Eastern Kentucky?
With the recruiting process thing, I felt like I should have been focusing more on the head coach’s relationship with me. In college basketball, it’s all about you getting along with your head coach and you and your head coach being on the same page. With my next situation, I wanted to make sure I had a head coach who can help me grow and be a coachable player too. A coach who will impact my life positively on and off the court.
Who was the toughest player you had to guard last season?
Ge’Lawn Guyn from East Tennessee State. He was transfer from Cincinnati. He was real nice. He was fast and hard to guard. He made a lot of tough shots. He was probably the toughest person I played against.
Who are you a basketball fan of?
I’m a big LeBron [James] fan. I don’t feel like you can dislike somebody who does everything on the basketball court. I’m a big Kyrie [Irving] guy too. I appreciate all talent in the NBA period from [Stephen] Curry to KD [Kevin Durant] to [DeMarcus] Boogie Cousins.
Do you have any pregame traditions?
I listen to music but I change up. Whatever I’m rocking with at the moment or listening to that day that is what I play before the game. It is nothing specific that I go back to every time. And I get locked in. Get in the zone. Try to get out on the court early and get a good sweat in.
Your father is determined on making sure Christians have faith in God. How do you translate that to the basketball court?
Having faith is every aspect of my life. For me it is just about believing in God. I’m thankful that God gave me the ability. I’m thankful that I even have the opportunity to play college basketball. I just keep praying and keep working because that will take me everywhere.