One on one with Frank Jackson

Rated as a five star point guard and one of the best 25 players in the loaded class of 2016, Lone Peak High standout Frank Jackson has a number of high majors after him. We spoke with Jackson about his upcoming plans to enroll in college, his recruitment, and what he’s been talking with Duke about.

As this is our first time chatting with you, can you provide some background on yourself?

Frank Jackson: I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and I spent the first 12 years of my life there. Then my mom wanted to move out to Utah, so we moved here. I like hanging out, I really do like basketball a lot. I started playing basketball when I was like three or four. I remember playing with my dad in the basement and then honestly, I didn’t start really playing, playing until I was in the 6th or 7th grade on teams and then I really got serious the summer of my 8th grade year, that’s all I did was just play basketball. I wasn’t the best, but I was an average player but I feel like I worked really hard during my 8th grade summer and I felt like I got better and then I made varsity as a freshman and then I came in and started.

I like being outdoors in the summertime, I like the water, go boating, being in the mountains sometimes, I used to ski and stuff but I stopped because of basketball. I remember we decided to move out here to Utah because my mom grew up here, so pretty much all my cousins live out here and so my mom really liked my area. While we were living in DC, we always had a vacation home out here, so I remember being out here in the summers and I would go to like BYU for their camps and Utah to their camps.

Did your mom or dad play competitive basketball growing up?

My dad played basketball and baseball. He played at a small school in Florida called Embry Riddle. Then my mom was a cheerleader, and she was crazy athletic.

You started on varsity as a freshman…what helped you develop to the point you were able to do that so early?

My dad, he was the one, I liked basketball growing up but he would tell me that you have been given all this talent and work ethic and ability, if you really put in the work and go to the gym, you are going to be able to make it to the high school team and do some really good things. So I think he really was my motivator and he taught me a lot, pretty much everything I know. Then I made the team and in the preseason I didn’t play much, then one game the coaches decided to put me in that year and I started the whole freshman season.

Do you remember when you got your first recruiting contact?

It was my freshman year. I was at Lehigh High School and we were playing Lone Peak, they were #1 in the country like 2 years ago and that’s when I was a freshman also, they came to our place and I had 30 that night and that’s when I blew up and BYU started calling my AAU coach, then that summer they watched me the whole summer and then at the end of the summer they offered me a scholarship.

I read that you had committed and then de-committed from BYU, is that correct?

Yeah so being familiar with Utah and with them and with their campus and what they are all about, they offered a scholarship and I was excited and I told them I’m committed. Then as I started playing more and more and started seeing other kids being recruited and seeing that I’m just as good as them and that I could play with them, I felt like it was a bit premature and I needed the experience of being recruited.

So now that you have opened things back up in your recruitment, which schools are standing out to you with what they are communicating to you?

Right now it’s Arizona, Stanford, Duke, UCLA, Utah, BYU still, I’ve started to talk with Indiana, North Carolina, NC State and Ohio State, those schools are starting to talk to me.

That’s a pretty good list isn’t it?

It’s honestly crazy and even when a new coach contacts me, I just feel so honored and blessed that they would even want to recruit me. I look at it and I’m glad that I made the decision to open things back up to get a bigger picture. It makes me really want to figure out every single little thing that I can about the schools that I can and figure out where the right place is for me.

Out of the new programs recruiting you—which ones have extended a formal scholarship offer to you at this point?

I’ve been offered by Arizona and Arizona State as well. With Arizona State that was actually with the previous staff, so scratch that, I probably don’t have an offer with them because I haven’t heard yet from the new head coach at Arizona State. UCLA, Stanford, BYU and Utah have offered.

How do you feel about those schools who have given you the early offers?

It’s definitely an honor because you look at each program and they all have done great things and for them to be interested in me is a real blessing, it’s a privilege for me to talk to those schools.

From a communication perspective with the schools you mentioned who are showing interest but haven’t extended a scholarship offer yet—are there any in that group who are recruiting you harder than the others in that group, or is it all pretty much equal with their interest level?

I think they are all equal right now because this has happened all in a matter of a couple of days. They all definitely are interested in me and I feel like they showed me that, but they are all equal in terms of their interest right now.

There were several ACC schools you mentioned that are looking at you now with NC State, North Carolina and Duke—can you take me through what the initial communications has been like with those programs?

So from Duke, Coach K watched me play and then he texted me afterwords and he told me that he was interested. Then after that I haven’t had any further contact with Coach K, it’s mostly been with Coach Scheyer one of the assistants. Me and him actually talk pretty frequently, he had talked with me before the Adidas event when he told me he was going to be there. He said after that event that they are really interested.

With NC State, I’ve texted with one of their assistants and with Indiana it’s been with Chuck Martin, I talked with him on the phone yesterday for quite awhile. When we have our next Adidas event in Indianapolis, I’m going to go onto their campus and look around a little bit. NC State has been talking to my dad and the same with the Ohio State guy.

Did Coach Scheyer indicate how they came to know about you and what sparked their interest in you?

Yeah so I think during my high school season they heard about me through my coach or a camp I went in the summer called the Chris Paul Camp, I think they heard about me from there. They were always saying that I was kinda in the back of their mind and that they had the time to come out and see me play and they liked what they saw.

Did Coach Scheyer indicate that they are evaluating you for a potential scholarship offer down the line?

He definitely has told me that they really like my game and that they are really interested in me right now.

Are they or any other program outside of Indiana asking you to take a visit to their school sometime this spring or summer?

Yes, with Duke I’m going to go in June and go visit with them and then other than that, I haven’t really planned any visits.

  What for you makes you want to schedule the visit to Duke and not anybody else at least at this point?

Honestly growing up and knowing the history they have there, I always thought to myself how cool it would be even just to be recruited by Duke, or even just go on their campus or to go into Cameron Indoor Stadium, so I am just really enamored with their program and of course, they just won a national championship and Coach K is one of the best coaches who has ever lived. I feel like it would be really cool to go and see what they have to offer there.

Are you hoping to have offers from any particular schools before the conclusion of your recruiting process?

Yes, I definitely would like to get an offer from Duke, that would be pretty cool. Honestly, any school that is talking to me it would be a privilege and a honor to go to their school from that list of schools I gave you, it would be an honor to go to any of them.

So with the upcoming potential visits—what are the main questions you and your family go into them with?

Well I don’t know if you know this or not, but I’m of the LDS faith, I’m a Mormon and so I like to think of it with three things when picking a program. I first think about what will that program do to help me develop as a player and enable me to get to the next level. Second, education is really big for me, so what do they provide educationally and how am I going to benefit from that. Then third, what kind of environment will I be in ? Will I be secure there and will my standards personally line up with the program and what they are all about.

Have you done any research into any of the programs with what their background is with players who share your in your faith?

Yes, usually when I talk with coaches who have had LDS players, they have told me about them. I got to speak with this one kid from Stanford who is LDS and he told me about the culture there and his experience with it. I think coaches will definitely tell me if they have that background like North Carolina did, they mentioned they have an LDS player who actually just got back from his mission and they love him. If they have had LDS kids before, they would let me know. BYU of course, Utah, pretty much those schools have talked with me about that and pretty much all the schools I’ve talked to are ok with me going on mission and then returning after my two years on mission and playing.

Is that your preference? To do your mission right after high school and then start college in 2018?

I think so, that’s something I always wanted to do as a kid is to serve, go on mission and serve the Lord.

What places are you potentially evaluating to go and serve during your mission?

Well with the LDS culture, you literally got your “calling” where you are going to go serve in the mail, so you have no idea where you are going until then. It’s kinda crazy, you will open it and it will say, “Elder Jackson, you are called to serve in so and so mission place” and they can send you anywhere in the world.

When does that come?

So the age for guys is 18, so I can turn my mission papers in by December or January and then a month or two after that you likely find out where you are going. I actually plan to graduate early in April next year, then right after that I will leave for my mission. I would then start college in 2018.

From a recruiting perspective with your recruiting time lime—do you and your family already have a plan in place for when you are going to tailor your list down, take visits and make a final decision?

I’ve thought about that and it’s really hard to make a decision but I really think I want to make my decision before the high school season starts and get it out of the way. My season starts usually the end of November, early December.

So does that mean you are looking to offer your verbal commitment and sign your college papers in November during the early signing period—or do you plan on offering your verbal commitment much earlier than that?

I’ll probably give my commitment but I’m not sure yet. I’ll probably go on a couple of visits this summer and then narrow my list down and if I feel like this is a school I really want to go to, then I’ll make my verbal commitment earlier, but if not, I’ll wait to the beginning of the high school season.

Based on your current visit plans—it doesn’t sound like you feel you need to take the full complement of official visits—am I reading that correctly?

I don’t think so, I guess I’m going to take a couple but I don’t need to take a ton if that makes sense.

Based on the schools recruiting you at this point—are there any that it’s a no-brainer that they will likely be in that final group of schools you are going to consider for your decision?

I honestly can’t say right now because I have no idea at this point. I just want to gather as much information as possible on each school.

Do you think it’s going to be important for you to have offers from schools by a certain point before you evaluate your final group of schools for your commitment—or does that not matter as much to you?

I think so, I think the schools that are showing the most interest in me will definitely be viewed from a different standpoint. We’ll see how it goes, I’m just starting this out.

In approaching the visits are you taking these trips with eyes on committing somewhere, or are you going to want to take some time after returning home?

I think I’m just going to go on the visit because I already did that when I went to BYU and I was kinda eager and really excited and I just feel like that it would be better for me to sit down and evaluate the visit.

As you evaluate your potential fit in a program—are you looking more at the potential depth chart, how they use their point guards, what their overall style of play is?

I think it’s a combination of all that as well as what kind of relationship do you have with the head coach. What’s my experience going to be here and I think who else have they offered and who are else are they looking at and what kind of role am I going to play for them, that all comes into play. I also wanted to mention that Gonzaga is on me too, they have offered me too, I forgot to mention that earlier.

How does distance factor in?

Well, I really do like Utah and the West Coast a lot, but I think if I got an offer from Duke or North Carolina, I would definitely consider that. I grew up in DC and I know that whole environment, so I definitely would miss all my friends out here but if that’s what would be best for me, then I would make the decision to go there.

Big picture…if Duke or UNC offers you a scholarship say by the end of this summer—how do you see that affecting your overall recruiting process from your perspective?

It definitely would something to look into and it would definitely sway me more that way. It would definitely make me think about leaving home and going there.

Just to ask—if a program that you are seriously considering for your college destination asks you to consider not going on your mission right away and instead come to school initially—is that something you even consider?

No, I’m going on mission when I graduate high school for sure.

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