A New Family Color

Westerville South's all-time leading scorer and one of the best defenders in his area, Wisconsin freshman guard Traevon Jackson is transitioning his game to Bo Ryan's swing offense, and is doing it full speed ahead.

MADISON - Growing up in a household loyal to the scarlet and gray, Traevon Jackson will consider it a challenge to sneak any Wisconsin paraphernalia into his dad's closet.

"He really doesn't wear any college gear, so if I could get him to wear a sweatshirt to the game or something, that would be great" Jackson said. "I might have to force him to."

When it comes to basketball role models, Jackson didn't need to look far to find one. His father, Jim, was a two-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year at Ohio State, was the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft and played in the NBA for 14 seasons with 12 different teams.

"He's really happy that I got to college and doing what I love," Jackson said. "He wants me to do well, do the best I can and have fun while I am doing it."

From coming to campus on the summer, running the hill and trying to blend in with a new program and a new group of guys, Jackson – one of the six new members of Wisconsin's 2011-12 basketball team - approached the new environment the same way he tackles any situation: going full speed.

"It's tough, but I got through it and just kept fighting and keeping strong," Jackson said. "It's a great experienced and I am blessed to be a part of it with a great group of guys."

Finishing his career as school's all-time leading scorer, Jackson averaged 18.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.3 steals per game in senior campaign as he was named the conference player of the year. Recruited by associate head coach Greg Gard, Jackson was a second-team all-state honoree and first-team all-metro and all-district as a senior.

He learned how to score from his father, but he learned his great defensive instincts by competing in one of the top high school areas in the Midwest.

"I had to guard basically the best players on every team we played, and I like going against guys that are good," Jackson said. "I have always gone up against guys in AAU in high school that are the top guys, and I like shutting them down. It's one of my goals, and obviously frustrated them is one of my goals to do, as well. If I can do to that to help my team, that would be fine with me."

That toughness has allowed Jackson to embrace his new environment. Although only 6-2, Jackson is a solid 208 pounds with a strong upper body that has come from a rigorous offseason workout regiment with strength coach Scott Hettenbach. The physical gains have allowed Jackson to focus on the mental aspect of the game, something he admits he's struggled with in high school.

"I've worked on the mentality big time, trying to forget about the last play and keep a steady focus," Jackson said. "I've tried to work on being more consistent with my shot and really trying to improve on my turnovers. You can't play here if you turn the ball over. I just want to be a smarter player overall."

Although he was the son of an Ohio State All-American, Jackson wasn't as highly recruited as his father. With scholarship offers from Miami (OH), Ohio, Cleveland State, Akron and Arizona State, Jackson knew that when Wisconsin started making contract in spring of 2009 that it had the potential to be a great opportunity.

"I was really excited but I didn't think I was going to get an offer from them honestly," Jackson said. "They did my junior year, and they really recruited me hard actually. That was the main thing for me. That was really great, and made me really want to be here."

With only a little over a week's worth of practices, Jackson understandably hasn't given a lot of thought to what his role will be with Wisconsin this season or if he plans to redshirt. All he plans to do is make sure the family name is proud to have another red school color intertwined in it.

"I am just going to keep going until they tell me to stop," Jackson said.


Badger Nation Top Stories