Aaron Jackson was a freshman on the Duquesne team that finished a school-worst 3-24 in 2005-06. Jackson and international pro Kieron Achara were the only two players who wanted (and were wanted) to stay around after Coach Ron Everhart took over.
Jackson started 21 of 27 games as a freshman and a somewhat misleading 46 of 59 the last two seasons.
During that time, Duquesne used hockey-style lineup changes, called the "1040," with two squads of five switching about every three minutes almost the entire game. So if Jackson's five (sorry 'bout that) started the previous game, the other quintet would be on the floor for the tip the next time out.
Thirty points tonight gives A.J. 1,022 for his career, 30th on the Dukes' all-time list. This guy is a compete basketball player; last season, the sports information folks referred to Jackson as the "do-it-all swingman." He's also in the school's top 10 in assists -- 396 ranks 5th all-time -- and steals -- 145 ranks 8th all-time.
He's back at the point now and leads the 2008-09 edition of the Dukes in scoring (17.9 ppg), assists (6.1 apg), steals (2.2 spg) and three-point shooting percentage (.405) and is second with 5.6 rebounds per game, 57.7 percent shooting overall, 80.5 percent from the charity stripe and a 2.10 assist / turnover ratio.
This past Sunday, Jackson was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the second time this season and fourth of his career. The only Atlantic 10 player among 34 preseason nominees for the Bob Cousy nation's top point guard award, Jackson entered tonight's game among the A-10's top five in six different categories: scoring (5th), field goal percentage (3rd), free throw percentage (3rd), assists (tie 1st), steals (tie 1st) and assist/turnover ratio (4th).
Jackson was overlooked on the conference's preseason teams probably because he was the sixth highest scorer on DU's 17-13 team last year. But this was from the small forward position and the team compiled a winning record for the first time in 14 seasons. He finished with 9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, and 1.4 spg.
This player is the epitome of the go-to guy, off the court as well as the Dukes work seven true freshmen into the lineup for the more intense and challenging conference play now underway.
The season still has a long way to go but at 10-4, the Dukes look a lot better than the 12th place finish predicted in the preseason conference poll. This weekend, Duquesne has a game at the opposition-team-non-friendly Reilly Center against St. Bonaventure, another A-10 surprise with an identical 10-4 record; the Bonnies were picked for 13th place.
Note: "Iron Duke" refers to Duquesne's teams from the 1940s and '50s when playing every minute was the norm.