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January 10, 2013

Ex-Dragon to Ivy League

Kendall Jackson, the speedy 5-foot-9 point guard formerly of Bishop O'Dowd and currently attending Suffield Academy in Connecticut, has committed to attend Columbia University (NY) of the Ivy League next fall.

Jackson, an excellent student looking to widen his collegiate options after last being seen on the NorCal hoop circuit with Bishop O'Dowd at the regional finals last March, has been leading quite the schedule at the northeastern prep school.

"He's in classes six days a week in addition to practices and two-hour-a night study hall sessions," says his dad, Phil Jackson, who was in Pittsburgh, PA to watch Kendall's twin sister Randi, now a freshman at Robert Morris University (and also a former point guard at O'Dowd), play this past weekend.

"I will be back out to watch Kendall play soon," said Mr. Jackson, and what he will see is continued improvement in the younger Jackson as Kendall is making great strides to prepare for the next level.

"It's the preseason so I'm mostly conditioning, doing skill work, and shooting with the team," said Jackson, and on the subject of the squad in particular, Kendall says the best part is that they all work hard and want to get better. "We work out together every day and at night we go hard in open gym," he added later. He feels that the team ultimately makes each other better with their intensity during pick-up games, and their performance in the weight room and on the track. He later added, "our team is looking good this year. We aren't the biggest or tallest team in New England, but we are fast, can push the ball up the court, hit open shots, and we play well together so I'm excited to start the season."

Not good news for opponents as Jackson, who is compared to Chris Paul by Michael Thomas, one of his AAU coaches from his days with the Bay Area Bucks. "He's a special dude and I would match him with any other guard that came out of NorCal with him," says Thomas. Continuing, Thomas said, "now at his size he will need to get stronger, but he has plenty of energy that seems to be getting harnessed properly at the prep school and this will help him to learn to pick spots when to take over using that speed to get to the rim, use that jumper, or to just make great passes to open teammates, much like we see with Chris Paul."

Jackson is well-known for his ball-hawking defense ("a beast" as Thomas puts it) and, unlike his years at O'Dowd where he basically fed the low-post when the Dragons had players like Richard Longrus (now at Washington State) and Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Kendall now has a coach in Jeff Depelteau who plans to free him to play his game as Jackson will run the offense and spearhead the defense, but also have ample opportunities to score whenever the situations present themselves.

Former Monte Vista High star Brian Barbour is a senior so Jackson will have a shot at significant minutes at the point guard spot next season and he definitely understands what he needs to bring to the table. "I have to be able distribute the ball, play lockdown defense, and continue to work on my pull-up jumper," says Jackson, sounding every bit like his dad and the other men (Thomas and coach Derrick Mosley, also of the Bucks) whom he credits for molding him into the person/player he is today.


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