Versatile Guard Joins Lions

Heading into April's late-signing period, Penn State coach Ed DeChellis had three scholarships to use. He was looking to add a versatile guard, someone with loads of athleticism and a player who could quickly fit the role of a leader in the young program.

DeChellis filled all three needs — with one athlete. David Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard from Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., faxed his letter of intent to the Nittany Lions Thursday afternoon.

Jackson, who averaged 18.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a sophomore at GCCC, picked Penn State after returning from an official visit to Auburn.

“He's a guy who can play all three perimeter positions,” DeChellis said. “He's very strong and athletic, and he has good leadership skills.”

DeChellis added that Jackson played in one of the best juco leagues (Panhandle Conference) in the nation, and raved about his coach at GCCC - Jim Hatfield. Hatfield is a former head coach at Mississippi State and coached under Joe B. Hall at Kentucky.

“That's the thing for me that's important, as well,” DeChellis said. “David knows what to expect. He's been coached. He's been yelled at. He knows what's what.”

Jackson, who played high school ball at High Point High in Maryland, had a three-day visit to Penn State in early April. Forward Travis Parker, another junior college transfer, served as host. Following the trip, Jackson told the Harrisburg Patriot-News he liked “the family atmosphere” at Penn State.

He should also enjoy the opportunity to earn immediate playing time. With the status of junior-to-be Marlon Smith uncertain following a blood clot in the brain that caused him to miss most of the 2004-05 season, the Lions were hurting for a play-making guard.

Jackson fits that bill. He made 53 percent of his shots, 55 percent of his triples and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2 to 1 last season. He went to the free throw line 157 times, making 130 (83 percent).

PSU's regular backcourt players — Ben Luber, Danny Morrissey and Mike Walker — shot 106 free throws combined last season.

DeChellis has two scholarships remaining, but will use one at most before next season. With Parker the only senior on the squad and Pennsylvania sporting a strong junior class, the coach wants to make sure he has at least two grants to give next year.

In the meantime, he spent Thursday driving around Florida checking out prospects. DeChellis and assistant coach Kurt Kanaskie will also be heading back to Europe soon, to touch base with big man commitments Milos Bogetic and Joonas Suotamo, whose letters of intent should be arriving at the PSU hoop office any day now, and to see if there are any other Euros worth pursuing now and in the future.

“We're still looking around trying to bring in one more guy,” DeChellis said from a traffic jam on Interstate 95 in the Sunshine State. “We still have some irons in the fire. But we're not going to give a scholarship just to give it. We want to give them to guys who can play for us.”

David Jackson's Stats.

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