What was your general take on having your future coaches visit with you and the family?
Frank Jackson Oh, it was awesome! It makes me even more excited to be there next year. It couldn’t have gone better, Coach K, Coach Scheyer, Coach Capel, all of those guys I’ve developed a real close relationship with and I feel really comfortable around them. I’m just really excited to get there. I’m looking forward to playing for Coach K and just the environment they have there and all the cool things they do and the travel they get to do. It’s just going to be a fun experience getting to play for one of the best coaches of all time. I know nothing will be given to me but honestly I can’t wait for the opportunity to go play on the biggest stage against the biggest competition.
What has led to the relationship being as strong as it is for you with the Duke coaches?
Back in the beginning, it wasn’t even about basketball. It was about getting to know me and what I do and my background. They had opportunity to meet my family this time and they asked them a bunch of questions. They really just cared for me as a person. Back in the beginning I knew they were serious because it wasn’t just all about basketball at that point, we definitely did discuss basketball and the cool experiences the coaches have been able to have, but them wanting to get to know me as a person really meant a lot and it’s a big reason why I want to be there.
Your dad mentioned that Coach Scheyer had built a good relationship even before Coach K got involved in your recruitment. What do you remember about you and Coach Scheyer getting to know each other?
Right from the start he was the one who recruited me the most. He came to all my games, he watched me and told me what I needed to do to get better and he told me what I was doing great with. He made me feel that I was important to him and he believed in me and told Coach K that you really need to this kid, he does this and this and he’s pretty good. He gave me the opportunity in a way to prove myself when I had the opportunity to play there. Him being a younger guy is cool, he was only there just a few years ago and he won a national championship, he knows what it takes to win and what guys it takes to win and he believes that I can be part of that. So it’s been cool to look up to him and to see what he has accomplished. I can’t wait to be out there and coached like everybody else.
It looks like Coach Scheyer was, in a sense, advocating for you with Coach K…what did that mean to you?
It means the world to me because it means he believes in me and he saw the potential and the talent in me. For him to think that I’m good enough to play there and that I’m good enough to help contend for a national championship—it means the world to me.
What are the things that you still remember that Coach Scheyer has said to you during the recruiting process?
You know, he’s just a good guy and he’s a cool dude that I can really relate to. I remember after all of my AAU games, he would tell me how awesome I played, but then he would tell me “let’s do this” or “let’s do that”. I feel like I can go to him for anything and that he will help me out any way that he can. He’s a great guy, he was a great player as well and the confidence that he has given me with his words and his actions, it’s really great.
Then Coach K got involved this spring, what do you remember from those early interactions with him?
I remember the first time he texted me I was like ‘what the heck, is this really happening’? It was after a game in the spring and he texted me telling me that they interested and they were going to try and recruit me. Then he called me and that is something I will never forget. I was in the car and I remember pulling off the side of the road and I sat there for 30 minutes just talking to him. Right off the bat he said, “I can tell with your body language and your mannerisms and your leadership that you are a good person and a good leader and we want to get to know you and your family. Then he brought up the basketball part of it and he said that you are a great player and we definitely want you in our future.” I could just tell with Coach K that he was about me as a person, not just me as a basketball player.
So what’s going through your mind those first few times once you were talking with Coach K?
To be honest, it was a little nerve-wracking, not going to lie. Coach K is one of the greatest coaches of all time and to hear from a man that I grew up watching this guy and seeing all of the 30 for 30s about him, it was crazy to me that he was interested in me and that he wanted me to play for him. But at the same time when I listened to Coach K, every time I hear him talk I make sure I listen. I think it’s so cool for me as a young man to look up to someone like that. I admire him as a person and a coach and that was a big thing for me when I first talked to him was just taking everything in that he was saying to me and really listening.
Were you the type to ask him a lot of questions as you were getting to know him?
At first it was more me listening to him because I was a bit timid, but I feel totally comfortable with them now. Like last night I was sitting at the dinner table and talking with Coach Capel, we were talking about everything with cool experiences we’ve gotten to have like they talked about visiting the White House and their families. I’m comfortable with them now and I feel like I can ask them any question that I need to. Like when they were at the White House, I was asking them about President Obama and I talked to them about everything, can’t even remember everything. Then with USA Basketball, he talked to me about my high school and what are some things I need to look out for this high school season, different things like that. His answers are just so precise and you gain so much knowledge just from listening to him.
What kind of things are you taking away from those conversations last night during your in-home visit?
I asked him about high school. He told me that I have to be ready because I’m going to have a lot of people coming at me, he said my confidence has to be at an all time high and don’t be one of those guys that everybody hates. He also said that at the same time to push yourself as hard as you can because the talent out here is good but it’s not as good as at Duke. He just said go hard and with your individual workouts, keep working hard, keep pushing yourself to be the best player you can and be the best teammate and leader to your teammates. Hard work is going to pay off so that I can be there for my teammates and be a leader, just things like that. It’s great to hear that stuff from him because he’s the best to do it.
You mentioned the talent level at Duke. Your dad mentioned that when you were at campus you had the opportunity to play pickup with the guys—what do you remember the most from that?
It was awesome. They are all tremendous players, they know the game of basketball, they have a feel for it that not many other players do and that’s why they are the best in the country. It was cool to get a feel for them and it’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be fun too because of how good those guys are. The thing I remember the most is seeing the way they talked to each other, they just uplifted each other and motivated each other up in a way, that was cool to see to see them united. We went to a dinner that night and there were about four players there and with the staff and they all went around and shared what life in college is like, and what it’s like being college basketball players and what I need to do now to prepare for when I get there and how to handle time management, working out, getting enough rest and just how to be the best I can be so I can be ready when I get there.
From a relationship building standpoint—which guys have you started to talk with?
You know, they were all super nice. The guy I’m probably closest to right now is Grayson (Allen). I still talk to him every once and awhile. I hope he sticks around next year because you never know and he’s got some really good talent, so he could be in the league next year but you never know. Guys like him and Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, Derryck Thornton was real cool, Chase Jeter, Luke Kennard, all of these guys I feel like I have a great relationship with all of them and they are super cool to be around already with just a few days I was out there.
You mentioned a couple of Duke’s captains this year with Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson—what did you notice about how those guys were with their teammates from a leadership standpoint?
You know, they cared about them. It was cool to see the way they motivated each other and the way they picked each other up. Even off the court you can tell that these guys have become best friends and they like to have fun with each other and joke around and they stick together. It was so cool to see a team that’s really close together.
You and your dad mentioned that it was an emotional time when you committed to Coach K, what do you remember?
You know it was definitely an emotional thing but it was a spiritual thing for me too. It was something I had been praying for for months and it was exciting to get that confirmation that it was the right thing to do, it was just awesome. Also it’s just a dream come true because every little kid dreams of one day maybe playing at Duke. It was a dream come true for me and it just kinda hit me when I was in the room with him and when my parents walked into the room, my dad especially has been with me through it all both on and off the court, so it’ll be something that I never, ever forget was being in that room and it definitely confirmed for me that this was the place for me to be.
How did Coach K react in that moment?
I told him that I wanted to go there and he was like “that’s great!” and he stood up and gave me a really big hug and he was really happy. He explained to me how this process was going to go along, then he brought my parents into the room and it was just a really good night. Then last night I was really excited for them to come into my home because I love each and every one of them and I knew it would make me happy for them to come. It gets me excited to have them come in knowing that I get to spend more time with Coach and with Coach Scheyer and Coach Capel, they are just really good guys that I love to be around.
How much of a plan was there if any when it came to the in-home visit?
They really just wanted to come and spend some time with me and my family and they actually came to watch some of my practice and then they came back to the house and we had dinner, it was a casual thing. I was glad they came all the way up here to see me, it meant the world to me. All of my family was able to be there except for my older sister, she’s serving a mission in Peru. I also had my AAU coach and my trainer there. When they got here we just kinda hung out in the family room, then we sat at the dinner table and we chatted and talked. It was fun.
What do you remember about what your family was feeling or saying as the coaches were on their way to the house?
They were just excited to see all of them because of the impact they have made on so many people. My family, I’m so grateful to them for the support they’ve given to me and they are proud of me. We asked the coaches about high school and some training stuff, we had planned to just get together and have fun and have some good food together—it was really great. The thing I remember the most from talking with the coaches is what they want with my high school season, what to get out of it. He explained to me that situation and then after the practice he actually met with my coach too.
So what kind of spread did you guys have for your dinner with the coaches?
It was called Bam Bam BBQ, we had it brought it in. It’s a place we all really like and we had some brisket, some ribs, turkey, it was some really good BBQ.
Didn’t realize you are a BBQ fan—how do you feel about going to North Carolina where it’s the land of pulled pork?
Haha yeah, it’ll be nice. I actually just got home from my little brother’s game, so I’m going to have some leftovers here in a little bit.
Did you guys make any future visit plans during the in-home visit ?
I’m going to go back there in the fall for a game and I’m going to try and make it out there for their Midnight Madness, Countdown to Craziness.
Your dad mentioned that during the recruiting process that he had some really helpful discussions with parents of players either being recruited by Duke, or who are already there. Did you have anything like that?
Yeah with me I talked to Jayson Tatum’s Dad, Jabari Parker and some others and I definitely took some time to figure out if this is where I want to be.
What do you remember from talking with Jabari?
He just told me that he didn’t want to just talk about basketball, he said I want to get to know you as a person, so that was similar to how Coach handled things. He was cool and he helped me a lot, that was a cool experience. He’s doing some great things right now, he definitely helped.
Are you helping at all with Duke’s recruiting efforts?
I know most of the guys that we’re recruiting so I’ve texted them and told them how I felt about the University and why I felt it was special to me. I’m always willing to help out with that so we can have a strong-looking class.