Lady Pirate Spotlight: Jennifer Jackson
Lady Pirate Spotlight: Jennifer Jackson
Being the first Lady Pirate to earn All Conference USA honors, third-team in 2002-2003, Jennifer Jackson knows what it takes to play basketball at the collegiate level. At the early age of eight in Farmville, Va., Jackson started dribbling a basketball and playing pick-up games with the guys in the neighborhood.
My cousins and brothers got me involved in basketball," noted Jackson. "There weren't too many girls that were athletic in my neighborhood, but there were a bunch of guys. If you wanted to go outside and play, you had to play sports. So I started playing pretty young with the rough guys."
Growing up, and having a hero like Michael Jordan, Jackson always had aspirations of playing in the WNBA. So it was no surprise when she began her career at Prince Edwards High School, that she was turning heads. Averaging 20 points per game, Jackson earned first team all-state, all-region, and all-district honors.
Jackson knew her next step after high school was going to involve playing ball at a division one university, and ECU was on her list of choices. When initially asked why she chose ECU, Jackson admits, "I liked the colors." Putting on a purple and gold uniform was something she had done the past four years at Prince Edwards. However, not only were the colors a comforting feeling, but so were the coaches and players.
"When I came on my visit, the coaching staff and players were great," says Jackson. "They treated me with a lot of respect. ECU was a really good school academically and athletically."
Stepping onto the court in the 2001-02 season, Jackson provided a spark off the bench as she played in 25 games. She finished the season with the third best three-point field goal percentage (.344) on the team and averaged 5.7 points per game.
But it wasn't until the 2002-03 season when Jackson truly made her spot be known on the ECU squad. Starting all 28 games for the Lady Pirates, she led the team in points per game 17.3, rebounds per game 7.8, and three-point field goal percentage (.371). Along with her All C-USA honors, Jackson was named MVP of the U.S. Cellular Classic, and to the Atlanta NW Marriott All-Tournament Team.
Coming off a strong sophomore year, there was nothing stopping Jackson as she continued to work prior to the start of this year. With the motivation to be ranked higher in conference, Jackson had her goals set high.
"Last year I just went out and played my game," said Jackson. "I let everything come to me. This year I'm thinking more about my shots and trying to make smart decisions. My goals for the season are to just get everything together. I want to expand my all-around game from passing to shooting to rebounding. The little things are what help us win."
And winning is what the Lady Pirates (14-4, 5-0) are experiencing as they are off to their best start since the 1980-81 season when it was 15-3. Winners of eight straight and 12 of the last 13, Jackson attributes their success to the coaching staff.
"I think we would give our success to our coach and her staff. They're a great staff motivating us, knowing we can do it and be a great team. They work hard and try to get us prepared for our games."
There's no doubt about it, Jackson is definitely making her contribution to the team as well. Averaging 14.1 points on the season, Jackson has hit 38-of-111 three-pointers and moved into fourth place all-time with 98 career three-point baskets.
"My role this year is to be an aggressive scorer. Not to just settle for the three pointers, but to get in there, drive, and open up the basket for my teammates. Also, I need to rebound more and get easy put-backs."
Whatever her role may be this year, Jackson's statistics speak for themselves. She is only 120 points shy of joining 18 other Lady Pirates on the exclusive 1,000 point club. As the Lady Pirates hope to continue their success on the court this season, Jackson reflects on what she finds to be the most rewarding part of playing basketball. It's not her stats or past achievements, but the fans. They are the ones who can give the extra adrenaline rush in the heat of competition.
"The best part is having the fans behind you all the time yelling and screaming your name. They are at the games, congratulating you on a win or loss because you are a champion in their eyes. When the fans are motivating you in the heat of the battle, I love it."