West, Jackson Run the Point

Jalen West and Zay Jackson gained valuable experience this summer and it's paying off.

Jalen West, from Bossier High School and Zaveral "Zay" Jackson from St. Thomas Aquinas were the only two sophomores on Mike Theus's Louisiana Select 17U Nike team this summer. Both players played point guard and learned a lot by playing with a team full of juniors.

Now in their junior seasons in high school, both West and Jackson are off to big starts.

West helped Bossier make it to the 4A State Championship Game last year. Last week, he was named the MVP of the Airline tournament.

"We're 17-1," said West. "We lost to Christian Life Academy." Bossier knocked off Red River, Zwolle, Woodlawn, and Airline to win the Airline tournament.

West talked about his summer playing with Louisiana Select. "It was a good experience," he said. "I got better. They toughened me up. It helped more people see me play. I got more experience. I like playing in the summer; it keeps me busy."

"I love it," Zay Jackson said about playing for Louisiana Select. "That's what I like. It helped out a lot."

Jackson scored 31 against both Riverside and Ellender and added 28 against Vidalia in the Sunkist tournament in Lafayette last week. Jackson helped lead St. Thomas Aquinas past Riverside in two overtimes. Riverside was led by super sophomore Ricardo Gathers, who happens to be the only freshman to play for Louisiana Select 17U last summer.

Both West and Jackson are starting to get interest from college teams. "I get letters from Georgetown, Texas, Penn State, Texas Tech, and Alabama," said West. "Louisiana Tech sends one every week. I've heard from Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Arkansas, and Northwestern State."

Jackson said he is looking to go out of state. He favors Villanova for their guard-oriented offense. "I just want to play ball," said Jackson, who is hearing from Western Kentucky, Tulane, SLU, and Southeast Missouri State. "LSU wanted me for track, but they thought I was a senior. Jackson jumped over 46 feet in the triple jump.

Look for St. Thomas Aquinas and Bossier to make deep runs in the state tournament in 2010.

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