Jackson wows the crowd in Raleigh at GSK

At the legendary Rucker Park in New York, seven "oohs" from the crowd in one game gains you legendary status and a nickname, and 2009 Gamecock commit Lakeem Jackson was trying to earn his name Monday in the semifinals of the GSK Holiday Invitational at Broughton High in Raleigh. "It gets me and the team pumped up," Jackson said of the crowd's reaction to his exciting plays.

"It gets us slapping the floor on defense and just gets us ready to shut 'em down."

The four-star South Carolina commit poured in a game-high 18 points while playing a key role in holding North Carolina commit Reggie Bullock to 17 points — after the Kinston High (NC) star scored 33 in the opening round of the tournament — In a 76-59 win. Christ School (NC) advances to the finals where they will meet Scout's No. 1 point guard in the '09 class, John Wall, and NC State five-star recruit C.J. Leslie, after the duo's team, Word of God (NC), disposed of St. Raymond's (NY) in the other semifinal game 63-43.

"I know in the first game (Bullock) had about 30 plus, so I just wanted to contain him. I got my hand up in his face," Jackson said. "I did a good job moving through those screens. I think I did a fair job on him."

Jackson held the five-star junior wing to 17 points on 6 of 18 shooting from the field as the Christ School swing man shot 8 of 10 from the field and added four rebounds, two steals, two assists and two turnovers.

"When coach (David Gaines) needs me to score or needs me to lock the best player down on the court, that's what I do," Jackson said. "I just try to do whatever he needs me to do so we can win the game."

Despite the crowd being very pro-Kinston, Jackson won them over with a barrage of moves, ranging from silky smooth spins in the lane leading to reverse layups to some of his patent thunder dunks that always seem to send the crowd into frenzy.

"I try to look at everything as preparation for college," Jackson said of the local crowd cheering on the opposing team. "You know, going out against a big crowd that's not on our side, I just try to focus on helping my team winning the game.

"It doesn't matter if the crowd's behind us. When we're on the court, it's just us. We're in between those lines and don't see nothing else." As far as winning over the crowd, Christ School will have a heavy task at hand with that considering that Word of God brings the biggest following of any school in the tournament and are based out of Raleigh.

"That'll be a good game," Jackson said. "John Wall's a good player, C.J.'s a good player. But we just look at them as any other team. We've seen lots of good players."

Jackson knows that when his team goes man-to-man, he'll probably draw the task of guarding the lightning quick point guard. And even though Jackson has guarded some of the best players in the nation recently that range in position and size, he hasn't seen anyone as quick as Wall. As far as Wall having to guard Jackson because of his team's lack of size in comparison to Christ School, he's not too sure what the championship game will bring.

"I don't know just yet," Wall said. "I don't know if the coaches are going to play man or zone." Wall seemed pretty impressed with Christ School after seeing them play the game before him. "I think their strength is that it's pretty hard to find any type of weaknesses because they have so many big men, and they all run the floor well," he said. "They just play hard, and they're smart. It's going to be pretty tough."

Wall said he had seen Jackson play before, and he was just as impressed Monday night with Jackson as he was before hand. "He works hard, he plays defense and he doesn't take plays off. He just goes out there hard, and I like the way he plays," Wall said of Jackson. "He would be a good teammate to have."

The championship game will be held 9 pm tonight.

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