Though the Saginaw Buema Vista Knights were not able to duplicate their 2004 state title march this past season, they were able to accomplish much more than many observers thought they were capable of. Their success was undoubtedly tied to the individual explosion of their star player, Tory Jackson.
As has been mentioned here before, the five-foot ten-inch Jackson posted stellar numbers in relative anonymity during his sophomore campaign. However, word began to slowly leak out during the summer when he started to post monster efforts against top competition. When his season rolled around he became and one-man juggernaut that pundits and coaches from all over the nation mentioned in the same breath with the top players in the country. He averaged 30 points, seven rebounds, six assists per game on his way to being named to the All-State dream teams in the Detroit Free Press and News. While Jackson is extremely pleased with his progress and the buzz about him in college circles, he won't allow those things to let him become complacent.
"I know I got a whole lot better," Jackson said. "I was really happy about how everything went. I was really happy with my progression. God blessed me with an incredible season. I raised my stock and everything. I developed a lot of leadership, I developed my court vision, and I got a whole lot better defensively too. Teams thought I couldn't play defense and that I was just a scorer, but I frustrated a lot of them and caught them off guard. I caused a lot of turnovers. I think I was averaging about five steals per game. I can get better though. You can't ever stop trying to get better because there is always someone else out there working hard, so I will be too."
As pleased as Jackson was with his own progress, he took even more pride in that of his teammates. The way they were able to step their games up really helped Buena Vista defy a lot of the tempered expectations that were prevalent with this year's unit. "They thought we were small," Jackson said of the public perception. "People didn't think we were going to make it out of our district. I was really happy about how we did. We had a nice season. A lot of other players developed. We had a young guy that is about 6-3 named Horace Washington who played JV last year. He came up and averaged 15 points and nine boards on varsity. We'll be even smaller next year, but we might be better. We're getting in the gym earlier than we did last year. Last year we got in around the time the season started."
With his high school season over, Jackson is now in the process of preparing for his "second season" with the Michigan Hurricanes. They have already begun preparing for their first tournament, "The Real Deal on the Hill"in Fayetteville Arkansas. At the same time, he has also started to take a closer look at his recruitment. His top five hasn't really changed, but there have been a few rumors lately that have certainly given him a little more to think about. "My top five in order would be Michigan, Florida, Miami, Illinois, and then Kansas," Jackson said. "I have been a little worried with Michigan though. I had heard that Coach Amaker might be fired ifhe has a bad season next year. I had heard that from some older people. It was a whole bunch of he said she said, but it kind of had me shook. Basically I need to talk to him and have him straighten out some of those rumors."
Jackson indicated that he will be speaking with Amaker in the near future. Furthermore, he pointed to his relationship with Michigan's head man as the primary reason why the departure of Charles Ramsey has not diminished the Maize and Blue's standing in his eyes. "I know Coach Ramsey left for Eastern Michigan," Jackson said. "That doesn't really affect me though. Tommy Amaker was really recruiting me a lot too."
A few other schools have been diligent with their courtship of the Saginaw native, and Jackson has certainly taken notice. He will be heading out on a few visits next month in an effort to gather more information so he can reach a decision by the early signing period. "Illinois has been recruiting me real hard," Jackson said. "I am going to visit Miami, Florida, and Kansas in May. Then I'll take an official visit to Michigan for sure because I've heard that the official visit is better than the unofficial. I want to get my decision out of the way so it won't be so much going on during my last year of school. "I'll just be able to relax about that during my whole senior year. I don't want have to worry about any of that. I want to sign during the November period."
GoBlueWolverine will have more from Jackson in the coming weeks.