Jackson's Role Changes; Has High D-1 Offers

Brian Towey spoke to Patrick Jackson of Xaverian High School: "My role has changed a lot in the last year," said Jackson. "Coach said that we were going to need me to be more of a scoring threat this year. On defense, I'm expected to guard the other team's best person."

In helping to steady a developing team, Patrick Jackson has seen his role expand as a junior for coach Jack Alesi at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn.

Jackson spent a good deal of time in the low post as a sophomore for Alesi, where his contributions were needed, but this winter, the 6-foot-6, 201 pound combo forward has been making the transition to the wing, where his future lies, and has shown promise in his burgeoning role.

"My role has changed a lot in the last year," said Jackson. "Coach said that we were going to need me to be more of a scoring threat this year. On defense, I'm expected to guard the other team's best person."

"He's coming off of a good stretch," said Alesi. "He's been playing very well. He's kind of between a shooting guard and a small forward. The thing he's been working on is his ballhandling skills. He shoots the ball well. He's learning the game and he has a real, real big upside."

Jackson spent his freshman year at D.C. area power DeMatha High School, moving back to Brooklyn to live with his father before his sophomore year and enrolling at the Bay Ridge-based high school.

After playing more of a complementary role as a sophomore, he has lent stability as a junior for a young team that is still feeling its way in the CHSAA AA Division, emerging as a focal point and shouldering more of the offensive burden.

Jackson scored 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting (2-for-3 on three-pointers, 1-for-2 from the foul line) to help Xaverian to a 65-51 win over St. John the Baptist at the Tom Crotty Memorial Classic at Hofstra University on Sunday.

Jackson is a player who has always been comfortable in the high post, but he's expanded his shooting range as a junior, now a viable threat behind the arc. He has made strides with his ball skills over the last six to nine months, and is improving shooting the ball off of the dribble. Like most players, he is more comfortable shooting off of the catch.

Alesi has stressed the need for Jackson to continue to develop into a well-rounded player, instead of strictly being a zone-buster.

"The challenge with him is going to be to develop a complete game, and to not just be a shooter," said Alesi. "He's always been able to shoot. But whether or not he becomes a successful college player will depend on his ability to handle the ball and defend."

College coaches have been intrigued by Jackson's upside, and a number of major conference programs have made note.

"Virginia Tech, Miami, and Clemson are interested," said Jackson. "Coach (Mike) Hopkins (from Syracuse) came to our practice last Wednesday. St. John's. They've all offered.

"My preference is the Big East or ACC. Whichever school is the best fit for me, I'll go to whatever school that I can go to and play right away."

Jackson's versatility has brought coaches out to south Brooklyn to take a look.

"They like my shooting ability, the fact that I'm athletic, and can play a couple of positions, inside and outside," said Jackson. "My versatility all together."

Jackson plays with the New York Gauchos on the AAU circuit.

There is a lot to like, not least of which is the positive influence Jackson is capable of having in the locker room and the fact that he is a strong student, in addition to his on-court potential.

"He's a good kid," said Alesi. "And he doesn't have a lot of the off-the-court issues that a lot of kids deal with these days.

"Right now, his approach to the game is very good. He just has to realize that you can't just play basketball, you have to think basketball. He's becoming more of a thinking man's player. He's got all the physical skills."


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