The Michigan Wolverines made Greenfield McClain star Dante' Jackson a recruiting priority for their 2007 recruiting class early last fall, and later showed just how serious they were with a November scholarship offer. The Maize and Blue joined in-state programs Dayton and Xavier as teams seeking to lure the talented wing to their campuses, and the attention from each has only grown ever since.
Much to Jackson's delight, interest from other major programs like Ohio State and Kentucky picked up as well. That interest has yet to manifest itself in the form of an offer, but the ever-confident young man has not allowed that to become a distraction.
"They haven't talked about offering and I really don't try to concern myself with it," Jackson said regarding the Buckeyes and Wildcats. "I've just got to continue to play the way I've been playing for three years. They'll offer sooner or later. If not, so be it. There are programs that have offered scholarships right now that are top notch programs. If those schools offer, they do. If they don't, it's not going to really make a difference to me."
With no set decision timetable at this point in time, Jackson is in no hurry to eliminate schools or anoint a leader. Still, it's clear that the aforementioned programs are the ones that will be most seriously considered when the time to choose rolls around. He has already formed solid relationships with some of the coaches, and that has done nothing but enhance the positions of their schools.
"Starting with Dayton, Coach Billy Schmidt doesn't call too often," Jackson said. "He has sort of a laid back approach, which is a good thing. So does Coach James Whitford at Xavier. I really like the way Xavier has been recruiting me. They have been kind of keeping it low. Michigan and Coach Andy Moore have done a great job recruiting me too. Ohio State and Coach Alan Major have actually kept it kind of low key. I usually don't have too much contact with Kentucky. They usually go through Coach, which is fine by me."
Distinguishing between the programs on his list is a task that Jackson started on months ago. There is clearly a long list of criteria to wade through, but the youngster took the time to highlight some of the most significant. "First I want to know what their education is like," he said. "I want to know what their academic centers are like and how I can be successful as a student. Then another would probably be, 'can we be successful?' Can I be happy there? How are they doing? How do the coaches interact with the players? Playing time isn't something that I'm really concerned with. That's not to say I don't want to play. I want to play, but if there is someone better than me…I'm going to work to get as good as he is. I'm going to work to take his spot."
One of the keys to finding out which of the programs best fits what he's looking for is taking visits. Jackson has taken unofficial visits to the in-state schools on his list this year, and hopes to make one to Ann Arbor very soon. "My most recent visit was to Xavier for their game against Cincinnati," he said. "The Cintas Center was popping from the opening tip to the last buzzer. It was interesting. That was the second or third time I'd been there and that was the first time it has been like that."
"The 29th of this month we're going to try to come up to Michigan to view the campus. If that doesn't work out then we'll try to make it to the Indiana game the last game of the year."
Once all of the desired information has been gathered, with help from his family, his athletic director Pat Stevens, and his coach Rick Van Matre…Jackson will sit down and make his decision. According to Van Matre, the school that wins out will have demonstrated some very specific traits.
"I think the first thing is the coach will have been very honest and genuine with him," the veteran basketball coach said. "The thing that is remarkable about him is he can read people so well. I've never seen a kid 17 years old that could read people like him. So you better always be up front and honest with him. I think he's one of those kids that puts in a lot of hard work, so the people that put in a lot of hard work with him…I think will be important to him. Also, the people that have been there throughout and have really worked hard and shown interest throughout…I think that's really important too."
Be sure to check out GoBlueWolverine's full length feature on Dante' Jackson in an upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the Magazine.