He can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel now, Joe Jackson is reaching the homestretch of his grassroots basketball career. After several summers spent traveling the country playing hoops, the 5-foot-11 point guard from Memphis (Tenn.) White Station only has a few weeks of grassroots basketball left.
While he's enjoyed playing in front of coaches, meeting players from all across the country and developing notoriety as one of the top players in the country, the confident Jackson also admits that it's all been a strain at times.
"It's hard man, you just gotta dig deep down inside and try to go at guys," said Jackson. "You just have to find it in there."
That's the thing about Jackson, he's been finding it in there for years now. Whether it's winning a state title or dropping 40 points in the All-Star game at the Reebok All-American Camp, Jackson always finds ways to score. But, he insists that when he gets to college he's got the passing and playmaking skills to play as a more traditional point guard if needed.
"I like that part of the game. I love to pass," said Jackson. "When I have players around me who can do what I can do it makes it even better for me. I can score, they can score."
Its' the idea of playing with other high level players that has Jackson getting excited about college -- even if he admits that he needs to start paying more attention to what styles different teams play, instead of just taking others word for it. A natural competitor, he wants to be with the best and is excited about how his level of play could increase with weapons around him.
"I think it will be good in college," said Jackson. "Playing with other good players, it creates a lot of plays that kids in high school can't make. I like that."
In fact, because he hasn't really looked at any of the programs that closely, Jackson has decided that he'll likely wait until the spring of 2010 to make a decision and sign a letter of intent.
"I just want to do it to take my time," said Jackson of waiting until spring. "I don't want to just jump into something and it just changes during the year."
Although he says that there's a chance that a new school could work their way into the mix, Jackson is feeling good about five programs right now. According to Jackson he'd like to trip to Memphis, Kentucky, Tennessee, Connecticut and Kansas. Of Bill Self and Jayhawks, the scoring machine says they are making a charge.
"Kansas, they are coming at me real hard," Jackson told Phog.Net. "They've been coming real hard since the spring and said I'm their guy."
For now, though, it's back to the grind and finishing out his grassroots basketball career. After the summer, he'll take a little rest and then start to check out the programs in depth.
"The playing style, the coaches, the facilities and everything else with the program," said Jackson of what will be most important. "As long as those things are good, the sky is the limit."