"It was close to home," said Jackie. "I didn't want to go far from home. It is about 4 hours from (Mississippi State)."
Jackie, who has been highly thought of by college scouts for several years, was glad to get it over with.
"Oh yeah," Jackie said emphatically when asked if he was glad to get his commitment over with. "It has been crazy, crazy."
Obviously, college coaches won't stop recruiting the player PrepStars Recruiting Handbook selected as the 11th best player in the country. But Butler basically said MSU fans and coaches don't have to worry about that because his commitment is firm.
"He is a true blue kid," said Mark, who has coached Jackie the last two summers. "When Jackie tells you something, it is done. He is a geniune kid. I am proud of him. He has a great family in his mama, Sharon, and Lulu."
Mark, who has coached a who's who in the SEC over the past several summers (Marvin Stone, Rod Grizzard, Terrance Mead, Ronnie Robinson, Terrance Woods, Erwin Dudley and rising high schooler Mike Williams, a top-5 junior), not only talked about how great of a kid Jackie is, but what kind of talent level he has and what the scouts think of him.
"Jackie traveled with us all summer," said Mark. "We played an unbelievable schedule and went practically all over the country. NBA and college guys were there watching us. When Jackie was really in shape and really wanted to play and played hard, a lot of people called him a young Moses Malone. People don't really realize this, but he is a phenomenal offensive rebounder. He did it all summer long."
Jackie explained why he is good at rebounding, both offensively and defensively.
"It comes natural to me," said Jackie. "I like to do it."
Even though he has tremendous basketball talent and athletic ability, Jackie knows he still has a few shortcomings in his game he needs to work on.
"My shooting and handling the ball," said Jackie, describing what he plans on working on this season. "That's about it."
Jackie will work hard on both of those areas because, as most folks know, his goal is to go to the NBA directly out of high school. Jackie didn't back away from that statement when I talked to him last night, although he did say college is still an option.
"I still want to go (to the NBA)," said Jackie. "I really want to go out of high school, but if I can't, I will go to college."
Jackie, who is nationally ranked as high as 11th and as low as 59th in various recruiting rankings, will have to look long and hard at his chances to be drafted in the 1st or 2nd rounds of next summer's NBA draft. After an up and down summer and with so many foreign players now draft eligible, Jackie very well could wind up in college for a year or two.
If he does wind up in college, look for him to feel right at home playing beside two of his future Mississippi State teammates, MSU commitments Gary Ervin, a point guard from New York City, and Travis Outlaw, a forward from Starkville, Mississippi, both of whom he either played against or with during the summer.
"I liked playing against G," said Jackie, referring to Gary. "I played with Travis out at Colorado. We played good together. We won the gold medal there."
Although they won't win any gold medals in college, when you add Butler, who is described by TheInsiders.com basketball recruiting expert Dave Telep as, "one of the truly elite prospects in the nation," to the 7th ranked Outlaw and the 43rd ranked Evin to next year's MSU basketball team, big-time winning will continue to be a common occurrence for the trio as well as MSU, a program that is picked 14th in the country by ESPN in their preseason poll.
For now, Jackie, who averaged 25 points, 17 rebounds and 9 block shots as a junior, will try and help his high school team win this upcoming basketball season. One other goal high on his agenda is working hard in the classroom, where he told me he is, "doing well."
Look for additional Jackie Butler updates over the course of the coming season.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.