Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Jessica Jackson commits to Hogs

Leader sports editor

Hog calls went up at the Jacksonville High School gym Monday morning because highly sought-after Lady Red Devil hoops star Jessica Jackson held a press conference to announce her intention to play college ball at the University of Arkansas.

Jackson, who is 6-foot-3, is rated a Top 20 prospect by several scouting services and has been offered scholarships by all the national powerhouses in women’s NCAA basketball.

Arkansas is a program on the rise. Head coach Tom Collen took over a program that had sunk to the SEC cellar. Last year the Lady Razorbacks went 24-9 overall and 10-6 in the SEC, their first winning SEC season in nearly a decade.

All that, plus a love of the Razorbacks since childhood, led Jackson to her decision.

“I love Arkansas,” Jackson said. “It’s my home state. I always wanted to go there. As I got older and was good at basketball, they were really the first team on me and they stayed with me through the whole thing.”

While scholarship offers poured in from all over the country, Jackson always felt a lean towards matriculating to Fayetteville. But she kept a close eye on two other schools, Texas and Texas A&M.

“Arkansas, Texas and Texas A&M were my top three schools,” Jackson said. “Texas A&M was the first school to actually offer me a scholarship so I kept them in mind because of that.”

Jackson also admits to wavering slightly on her long-held, though unspoken, commitment to Arkansas when the Lady Aggies won the national championship two years ago.

“Maybe just a little bit,” Jackson said. “Not very much. A national championship is a big thing, but I still knew I loved Arkansas.”

Jackson has not taken official visits to any out-of-state schools.

Jackson didn’t know what to expect from the press conference organized by her father Jeff Jackson. A bit shy during the proceedings, Jackson enjoyed the moment.

“It was overwhelming,” Jackson said. “To have my friends there, my grandmomma, my auntie and my daddy, my coaches. It was really special.”

Monday’s announcement was a verbal commitment only. She’s not bound by her commitment until she signs a letter of intent on national signing day in November, but she’s solid in her commitment.

“I just knew all along so why wait,” Jackson said.