Reading Up On Justin Jackson
Colorado Springs, Colo. ē June 12, 2011
Athletes are often stereotyped as poor students. 2011 USA Basketball U16 National Team member Justin Jackson, however, is trying to reverse that label. Jackson, a 6-5 guard, who recently completed his freshman season, prides himself not just on the court, but also in the classroom.
Jackson is a straight A student, excelling in math and Spanish. Whatís more, though, is that Jackson lists one of his favorite hobbies as reading for pleasure.
The Spring, Texas, native also prides himself on the court, however, leading his team, the Homeschool Christian Youth Association (HCYA) Warriors to the 2011 National Christian HomeSchool Basketball Championship (NCHBC) national crown. Jackson averaged 21.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg., and 3.0 apg., while starting all 50 games for the 27-16 Warriors, who also won the Texas State/Region title. Despite being a freshman in 2010-11, it was Jacksonís second season playing varsity basketball. In 2011, he was named the Pete Maravich Trophy National Homeschooled Player of the Year, and is also a two-time NCHBC All-America first-team selection.
Jackson sat down with USABasketball.com to talk about life, both on and off the court.
What was your initial reaction when you were told you were selected to the 2011 USA Menís U16 Team?
I was excited. It didnít really hit me until later that night, but I was excited because itís a major honor to be picked, first for the 27, and now for the 12 to go to Cancun. I was just excited, and itís a major honor.
What does it mean to represent the USA while playing basketball?
Itís a much bigger thing than any of us have ever had to represent. Youíre going out there representing a ton of people, not just you and your team, but other people in the country. You have to take that pretty seriously.
What was the reaction like from your family and friends back home when you told them you made the roster?
I called my dad and my mom. My whole family was really excited. Then I started getting text messages from a ton of people, congratulating me and saying how proud they are of me.
For someone who hasnít seen you perform, how would you describe your style of play?
Iím more of a finesse player. I like to shoot. I have to play better through contact, but Iím more of a finesse player who likes to shoot. I like floaters.
Whatís your all-time favorite basketball memory?
That would probably be winning the homeschool nationals.
Talk more about that experience:
It was great. First, you get to play at Missouri State University, so itís on a big stage with a lot of people. Itís just a great thing to play in. You play in front of all of your fans. Itís the thing youíre working for all season.
You played 50 games last season, a significant amount more than most of the players youíre competing with this week. Talk about that, and if it helps or hurts you in the long run:
We donít have a home gym, so we just go out to a ton of tournaments and play a few exhibition games in other teamsí gyms. It was a lot of games; Iíve never played that many games in a season. At a certain point it wears you down a little bit, but if you take care of your body itís not a big deal.
You got straight As in school. Talk about priding yourself in your schoolwork:
My parents have always been on me about my schoolwork. Theyíve said that I canít do anything else if I donít get my grades up. So I take that pretty seriously.
What is something that not a lot of people know about you?
I actually like to read. Most athletes donít really pay attention to reading, but reading is one of my hobbies in my off time.
Whatís your favorite author or genre of book?
I like adventure books. I like basketball books that give you good information. I pretty much read anything.
You mentioned that if you could live anywhere it would be Cincinnati. Why there?
We lived in Cincinnati about five years ago, so I have a ton of friends and family that live there. It would be great to go back to them.