Horn lands dynamic first commitment

Coach Darrin Horn landed the first commitment of his tenure at South Carolina on Wednesday night when Christ School (Arden, NC) explosive 4-star small forward Lakeem Jackson gave his pledge to USC. GamecockAnthem.com caught up with Jackson's high school coach David Gaines, and he discussed what type of special talent the Gamecocks are getting in his star wingman.

The 6'5", 200 pound Jackson, who is rated by Scout.com as the no. 10 small forward in America this recruiting year, had quietly favored South Carolina for months before officially giving his pledge to Coach Darrin Horn and the Gamecocks on Wednesday evening. According to Christ School Head Coach David Gaines, Horn's tireless pursuit of Jackson on the recruiting trail was one of the main factors that attracted the dynamic prospect to South Carolina.

"They love him at South Carolina. Coach Horn said to me and made it very clear to Lakeem and his family that, 'You were our number one target at Western Kentucky, and now that I'm at South Carolina you're still our number one prospect.' They love him, and Coach Horn says that he could play for him right now. He's made it clear that Lakeem is very important to what they want to get done in Columbia."

Gaines believes that Jackson is a special caliber of athlete on the hardwood that will instantly help Coach Horn and the Gamecocks' basketball program.

"He's a terrific finisher. I'd be hard pressed to say that I've seen anybody that can go to the rim and finish like he can. He can do it on either side of the court because he's strong with both hands. He's an incredible rebounder that can get any rebound that he wants. He's a hard worker that's always looking to improve," he said. "Lakeem has meant a great deal to our team. I've been here ten years, and he's the best athlete I've ever coached. We knew what kind of athlete he was, but we underestimated how unselfish and team oriented he is. He scored 16 points a game for us, he led the team in assists, and he defended whoever the other team's best player was. He rebounded well for us. He was able to lead us in transition, and he sees the floor almost like a point guard."

Jackson's biggest area for improvement is on his perimeter game, but Gaines believes once he becomes a more consistent shooter he'll be extremely difficult to defend on the college level.

"The biggest area for Lakeem to improve on is his outside shooting. We've been talking with him about that since last summer, and it's gotten better. It's gotten significantly better, but that's the area that he knows he needs to work on in between now and the fall of 2009. He's got to continue to improve that because he'll be really tough to guard when you've got to respect his jump shot."

With his combination of size and athleticism, Jackson has the versatility to play both shooting guard and small forward in college, according to Gaines.

"Honestly, I think he can play the '2' or the '3.' I think Coach Horn sees him as a wonderful mismatch for them wherever he plays. Because of his size and his strength, he can easily guard small forwards. On the other hand, most small forwards can't guard him because of his athleticism. He could also guard a whole lot of 6'2"-6'3" guards, and his size and wingspan would cause them problems. I really think he could play both because of the match up problems he'd present."

Jackson becomes the first commitment in South Carolina's 2009 recruiting class and is the first verbal pledge landed by Head Coach Darrin Horn at USC. Jackson, who chose South Carolina over offers from Clemson, Marquette, Charlotte, and others, is the highest rated commitment for the Gamecocks since Scout.com started covering basketball recruiting in 2002.

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