Jackson, son of former Ohio State star Jim Jackson, has been a target for UW associate coach Greg Gard since last spring. Turning in a spectacular junior season for Westerville South, averaging 20.5 points, eight rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game and being named second-team all-state, Jackson had visited Madison in the fall and made a return trip last week to get the approval of his mother.
Jackson, a dynamic shooting guard with accuracy from the perimeter, a solid defender and incredible work ethic, picked Wisconsin over his other finalist, Arizona State. Jackson did not get a recruiting look from Ohio State, even with his background and living just 15 miles north of Columbus, which made his commitment to the Badgers more special.
Jackson talks with Badger Nation about his decision to follow in his dad's footsteps to play in the Big Ten.
BN: Your dad grew up in the Big Ten and now works in the Big Ten. Tell me what it is like to play in the same conference that your dad did so well in all those years?
Jackson: First off, it means a lot to me to play at this high level with Wisconsin. The coaching staff did a great job recruiting me and made me feel very comfortable. The Big Ten overall is a great conference that has a lot of great players. It should be a good time playing close to home with a lot of games in a competitive conference.
BN: Can you talk to me about your relationship with Coach Gard and how he was able to recruit you and open your eyes to Wisconsin?
Jackson: He was great. He was one of the main reasons I went to Wisconsin. Actually when he was getting his job offer from Green Bay, I called him to find out if he was going to go and he told me he wasn't going. I am glad he didn't because he showed a lot of loyalty and had a lot of trust in me. He was one of the first people to start recruiting from a bigger school. He was great, came to a lot of games, my open gyms a lot and came to my school even when we didn't play just to talk. Him and Coach Ryan showed me a lot, which made a big difference.
BN: Can you talk to me about the second visit to Madison last week with your mom? You can come up for a football and basketball game, but how important was important for you to bring her up here to show her the things you like and get that vote of confidence?
Jackson: It was great. She loved it right away and felt very comfortable. The reason, I think, she felt comfortable was seeing how the coaches treat the players and how they treat them well off the court. They gave her a real sense of security. That was the only visit she made to a college and she didn't need to make anymore.
BN: How much do you like Coach Ryan's system and Coach Ryan as a person and a coach?
Jackson: Coach Ryan is a great coach. Obviously, he has a great record to back his status up. He loves his players a lot. People look at his players as freshman and by the time they leave, they are great players. That's one things that attracts me to his program is the way he treats his players. That's one of the thing I like, that he takes care of the star player down to the last person on his bench.
BN: I've heard you take a lot of pride in your work ethic, making your weaknesses strengths and spending a lot of time in the gym to be a balanced player. Where has that come from and how was that instilled?
Jackson: Mainly, that comes from my mom. She works really hard and taught me to work hard for what I want to be and work hard at it. I give credit to my coaches. They've pushed me since I was a freshman in high school. They let me know I could be whatever I wanted to be as long as I worked at it. It's a great feeling knowing that if you work at something and you keep working at it that you know you are able to do it. It makes me excited to keep getting better as long as I keep working at it.
BN: What's the strongest aspect of your game right now and what are you hoping is going to be the strongest aspect of your game when you enroll at Wisconsin?
Jackson: Probably now, I would say my passing is pretty good. I like to find my teammates. By the time I get to Wisconsin, I want to have my jump shot down consistently. It's come a long, long way, but I want to become a dead-eye shooter. I want to have confidence when I put my shots up and that's one of the things I really want to work on. That, and getting my turnovers down are going to be the main thing.
Jackson: I have never heard of Frank before talking to Coach Ryan and Coach Gard. I have never seen him play but from what I've heard, he's had a great spring and is on the radar of a lot of guys. He can go inside and out, which is good for an offense.
I've been playing against George since middle school and he's going to be a very good point guard. He is quick and crafty. He plays good defense and he has always been one of those guys that you hate playing against because he's so good. It's going to good that I can play next to him instead of against him.
BN: How excited are you for the recruiting class you are in and how good do you think Wisconsin can be with this class?
Jackson: We've got one more year of high school left and one of my goals is to win a state championship first and foremost. For college, I think we'll bring a different type of style to Wisconsin. We have a lot of smart players coming in this class and they are going to be talented, as well. We're going to be able to run the swing offense and maybe get out on the break and go. That will be good. With all of our strengths, it will bring a difference, and I am excited.