No matter how many times Demetrius Jackson (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) speaks to the media, at some point the conversation gets steered toward competing and its importance to him.
Take this summer for example, Jackson wasn’t on a high-profile travel team but he didn’t care. He relished head-to-head matchups against the power teams.
“We went out and competed against teams that people thought we couldn’t compete against,” Jackson said. “We definitely made our mark. We showed everyone that we could compete against anybody.”
“I get real competitive about everything I do. Whether it’s a video game, playing my siblings or a big high school game; I’m pretty competitive.”
On how he approaches the game: “I see a lot of people that seem satisfied with a good individual game regardless of the outcome. They want to get theirs. That’s not the way I’m built. I’m selfless. I think about the goal of the whole team. I don’t want to be 'that guy.' I’m competing with my whole team and especially with the guy across from me. I don’t want to be 'that guy' that loses that battle too.”
Ranked No. 32 in the Class of 2013, Jackson is an elite player. How he's wired is a big element of his success. He sweats the details. He cares about how you win and how improvement is measured. The college coach that signs him won’t have to worry about him unpacking his bags and committing to the team. This guy will be all in and that’s why his value continues to rise.
During the last month, the competition for his signature heated up. Jackson took note of the faces in the stands. In his own way, it was kind of like keeping score.
“Notre Dame was at every single game this summer,” Jackson said. “Coach [Mike] Brey was at the majority of them and Coach [Anthony] Solomon was at a few. They were at every single game. Kansas only missed a few. Louisville only missed a few and Illinois was there at just about every game and Valpo was there because we had a guy on the team committed there.”
Jackson’s list will officially get trimmed in the near future. Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Xavier, Pittsburgh and Kentucky are mentioned. Some are locks to make the final list. Hometown Notre Dame isn’t going anywhere. “Definitely Illinois and Kansas (will receive official visits),” Jackson said. “Illinois is first football game of season and I’m trying to figure out a date for Kansas.”
The commitment by Notre Dame’s staff and the persistence of others during the July period is not lost on Jackson. The guys who traveled to see him and committed resources of time and relationship building earned his attention.
“That’s big. They could be out scouting another point guard but to be there every single game that stands out and really means a lot and it shows me how interested they are and so committed to coming to watch me grow. Notre Dame did not miss a single game. They’re really emphasizing how bad they want me to play for the Fighting Irish.”
Here’s why it’s impossible not to respect Jackson. Nike has the EYBL. Under Armour and adidas have their high-profile events. Jackson’s MBA Select squad is essentially local guys chopping it up together. They are not a coveted name on the circuit and weren’t involved in the rotations for high-profile events. Jackson’s national stock might have received a boost had he slipped away and played for another team (he’s going to receive the attention he earned from ESPN, that’s for sure). Jackson did not entertain transferring to another program.
“Never ever did I want to leave this team. Never ever would I have left this team. My coach [Rod Creech] has been a father figure to me. I’ve been in and out of foster homes since seventh grade. He’s helped me as a person and as a player and I wouldn’t be where I am without him. He’s been a father figure but he’s also like a brother. He’s got a son Parker, who looks up to me.”
If you read Jackson’s quotes, pay attention to how his game is described and follow recruiting coverage, it becomes clear why he’s a coveted point guard. There’s a reason why Mike Brey, Bill Self and Rick Pitino were sitting at the same court in Fort Wayne, Ind., last week when others were in Vegas or Orlando. For the coaches, it’s a competition to land Jackson.