Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Jackson to play at women’s final four

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville basketball sensation Jessica Jackson has been named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association All-American Team, and will play in the WBCA high-school All-American game in New Orleans on April 6 during the women’s NCAA final four, which will be played April 5 through April 9.

Jackson, who called a press conference in November to make a verbal commitment to the University of Arkansas, has averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds this season for the Lady Red Devils. Jackson is joined on the team by Little Rock Hall standout Tyler Scaife and the two become only the second and third players from Arkansas to make the WBCA All-American team. The only other Arkansas player to ever make this elite team was Osceola’s Ruby Vaden in 2002.

“I feel it’s an honor,” Jackson said. “I was very blessed and happy when I got it. It’s an honor to be an All American any way it goes so I was very excited.”

Jackson, 6-foot-2, is the only player that will participate in the game that hasn’t yet signed an NCAA letter of intent, though she remains committed to her verbal declaration in November to sign with the University of Arkansas.

Duke and North Carolina each have three signees playing in the game to lead all NCAA teams. The 20 All Americans will be divided into two teams of 10, though the teams have not been announced.

Despite how they are divided, Jackson expects it to be challenging.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Jackson said. “The hardest thing will be playing all the top girls around the nation. So I think it’s going to be fun but hard.”

Jackson and the No. 1 ranked Lady Devils just set a school record by running through conference play undefeated, and hope to bring home the school’s first state championship in girls basketball in early March.

“That’s our goal,” Jackson said. “We have a lot to improve but I think we have what it takes to win it all if we’re willing to work for it.”