eDuck Magazine Interviews Luke Jackson

Some people call him "old school". Others might say he's a "throwback" to athletes from a previous era. In the case of Luke Jackson, 6-7 junior forward for the University of Oregon Ducks basketball team, such labels or descriptions are a compliment, because the traits from yesteryear that we don't often see in sports figures in the 21st century are refreshingly present for all to see in Jackson. Hustle, effort, humility, respect, sportsmanship, tenacity - they are all there.

How many young men today would list True Grit, a 1969 movie for which John Wayne won an Academy Award, as one of his favorite movies? In the movie, a young lady played by Kim Darby was looking for a man with "grit" to avenge the murder of her father. What is grit? It is defined as unyielding courage, spirit - gutty. When Coach Ernie Kent was looking for young men to help build his basketball program a few years ago he didn't have far to look. Just ten miles south of Eugene, Oregon, in Creswell was a home grown product that had not only the talent and skills that are needed to play Division 1 basketball, but the intangible qualities that can help lead and inspire teammates by example. Kent found above all an individual with that much-needed commodity - grit.

We wanted to get to know Luke Jackson a little better up close and personal. We began with reflections by his biggest influences in life, his father, Steven and mother, Kathi. In addition Luke gives his answers to a series of questions and then responds more at length later in the interview.

Steven and Kathi: "We spent a few of Luke's early years in Alaska and we just used the TV to watch movies on the VCR. There are not a lot of g-rated movies out there and even the PG-13 is pretty questionable for kids, so we liked watching a lot of the "old stuff" like John Wayne movies."

Luke's grandfather, Dean Eusted, used to play for Creswell and he lived right across the street from the high school. Eusted took the rim down that he used to score so many points on and when the school was razed he put the hoop in the back of his house. And so, Luke spent a lot of time back there on that hoop which has a whole lot of history - it is a real old hoop that's still up. Luke won the state free throw championship when he was eleven and he did a lot of practicing on that hoop.

Yes, we would definitely call Luke, "old school". He learned "classic" basketball. One of the things when I was coaching him as a little kid that he bought into was that if you score your parents are happy or whatever, but if you pass the ball you make a lot of people happy and it counts more than actually scoring yourself. He really bought into that, because the best players in the NBA at the time were Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas who would take the big shot, but it was more important for them to get their teammates involved.

After a recent practice at Mac Court we talked with Luke Jackson.

eDuck: When did you know you wanted to be a basketball player?

Luke: "Ever since I went to the gym with my Dad when he used to play city league and watched him play with all his friends. I went home and started practicing and just decided that I love the game and I always played ever since I can remember. I always wanted to be a high school player for the Creswell Bulldogs team and I can still remember all the guys I wanted to beat. Growing up my goal was to play in the NBA, and I always wanted to play in college, but the first thing, my biggest goal, was to win the State championship. I saw all the guys before me that were so close, so that's what I wanted to do."

eDuck: When did you and Luke Ridnour get to know each other?

Luke: "I first started talking to him before we committed on our trip, and I talked to him a little bit the summer before we committed here and he came and lived with me and we started to become real good friends."

eDuck: How does one become an excellent free throw shooter like yourself?

Luke: "Getting in the gym and putting up a lot of shots and I think all good shooters are going to be great free throw shooters. And the foundation of being a good shooter is being able to shoot the ball well from the free throw line. Have a routine when you get up there and be confident."

The complete story and interview with Jackson is in the February issue of eDuck Magazine. To subscribe to eDuck Magazine, click here.


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