2013 PG Demetrius Jackson Wows Onlookers

The Fighting Illini basketball program is seeking a special point guard to run its offense and perform all the tasks the coaching staff expects of their floor leader. While that search is continuing, Demetrius Jackson demonstrated this weekend he has the qualities sought by the Illini.

Demetrius Jackson is a four-star point guard from Marian High School in Mishawaka, Indiana. He has been well known in recruiting circles for some time and has already received offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Butler, Florida State, Xavier and Michigan, with several other schools showing interest.

But his play this past weekend at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis may have elevated him to the upper echelons of the national 2013 prospect lists. He led his MBA Select 2013 team to the 17U championship of the 17U Gold Division. The team lost only one game all weekend.

"We lost one game in pool play, but since then we won all of them."

Jackson demonstrated exceptional all-around skills. He is, first and foremost, a leader who knows how to elevate the play of his teammates and set them up for open looks. When you add exceptional ball handling, extreme explosiveness and tremendous court awareness, he projects as someone who can lead his team to many victories.

While his three point shot has been erratic at times in the past, Jackson burned the nets repeatedly this weekend. He is also a threat to penetrate the lane to set up teammates or take it to the rim at any time. In a word, he's a winner.

"I lead my team with communication and things like that. I just try to do whatever I can to help my team win, whether it's scoring or rebounding or playing defense or passing."

The 6'-1", 185 pounder repeatedly demonstrated total belief in his abilities this weekend. He gave his teammates extra confidence by his relaxed countenance. He agrees he knows he can make plays whenever his team needs him.

"Definitely. Whenever my team calls upon me, I'm always there to answer."

He wants to continue improving.

"I still want to work on everything. I know I have a lot to work on to be able to play at the college level, and any level beyond that. Every time I step in the gym, I work on everything because I know I'm not perfect."

Jackson appreciates the attention he receives from college coaches.

"Yes sir, definitely. It's a blessing to have each and every school recruit me. They're all great schools."

Besides his offers, Kansas assistant Norm Roberts followed him around this weekend. Kansas likes to offer late, so don't be surprised if it becomes a major player in his recruitment. But Illini coach John Groce has also made a strong impression.

"He's a great coach. I talked to him previously when he was at Ohio. He felt like he couldn't recruit me there, but now that he's at a bigger school, a bigger program, he's come on harder and offered me a scholarship awhile ago. He's been calling me on the phone, texting me and all the things he's able to do so he gets to know me better, and I get to know him better too."

Illini assistant coach Jamall Walker followed Jackson all weekend. He told Jackson recently that Groce and the prospect share the same September birth date. A reminder brought a big smile to his face.

"Yeah, we have the same birthday. We just found out we have the same birthday a couple weeks ago. He's a great coach."

Groce knows what he wants in a point guard and won't settle for mediocrity. Since Jackson has many of the traits Groce seeks, perhaps their commonality will pay off during the recruiting process. Jackson recognizes his "fit" with Groce's style of play.

"I watched his previous point guard D.J. Cooper over in Ohio, and he was a great point guard. I see similarities in the way me and D.J. play. Definitely, I can see why he would want to coach me."

Jackson is optimistic about his upcoming high school season despite needing to find replacements for graduated players.

"We're pretty good. We have only a couple letter winners returning, but we have hard workers. And we have really great guards. We're just working on our bigs."

Many assume Notre Dame leads since he lives close to its campus and works out with some of their players at times. He may be someone who adapts his comments to what his listeners want to hear, but he claims every team has a chance for his services.

"I'm still open in my recruitment. There are no leaders in my recruitment. Each and every school recruiting me right now is a great school. It's gonna be a tough decision; I like them all equally. I just happen to know a little bit more about Notre Dame from living in the area."

Most likely, we will find out for sure in less than three months.

"I plan to make my decision before the high school season, so I'll probably sign in November."

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