It’s lights, camera, action for Jessica Jackson.
Every Tuesday and Friday night in Arkansas the 6-2 senior, ranked No. 18 in the 2013 Full Court Fresh 50, lights it up on the basketball court for the Jacksonville Red Devils where she’s averaging 20 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks a game. When she’s not on the court, you’ll probably find her with a camera around her neck avidly taking photographs around Jacksonville High School and beyond.
“I love photography”, says Jackson, who is taking a photography class and submitting images to her high school yearbook. “I like taking portraits and I also find random things and try to make them look cool. Honestly, there’s so many things to take pictures of.”
What she’d like to see is a picture perfect ending to the recruiting process. As one of two unsigned seniors remaining in the 2013 Full Court Fresh 50 (the other is Ieshia Small), Jackson surprised many when she didn’t sign with Arkansas in November, the school she verbally committed to over the summer.
“I didn’t de-commit, I just didn’t sign,” says Jackson about misunderstandings surrounding the situation. “The top school is still Arkansas, but I also like Texas and Texas A&M.”
Jackson says she didn’t sign because she needed more time to weigh her options and to see what other personnel schools added. She has plans to make official visits to both Texas and Texas A&M in the next two weeks and says her decision hinges on a few important factors:
1) A team that will compete for a national championship;
2) A school that has her major -- she plans to study dentistry;
3) A team where she will be able to play her position, and not be asked to play out of position -- she considers herself a wing with the ability to play inside and outside; and
4) A team that has a family environment making her move away from home easier.
Jackson says she will visit all three schools and make her final decision during the spring signing period, but for now it’s a tough call because there are things she likes about each school.
“I like the coach at Texas and I like Imani Stafford, and they have a whole lot of good players to play with,” says Jackson about the Longhorns. As for the Razorbacks, “I’ve always wanted to play there since I was young. I like the style that they play and I like the coaches.”
But she also has strong ties with the Aggies, “I’ve always liked Texas A&M, they’ve been with me since I was in the ninth grade. They were one of the first offers I received, and they’ve won a championship.”
For now Jackson is concentrating on her grades -- she made the honor roll this year -- and on winning a state championship. Last year the Red Devils made it to the final four of the Arkansas State tournament where Jackson picked up All-State and All-Tournament team honors. This year her squad is 15-4 with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play.
Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms says her star player has put in a lot of extra work outside of practice and is playing the best ball of her high school career. “I like the way she spends extra time in the gym. She’s constantly working on her ball handling or shooting, and she’s worked really hard on the consistence of her outside shooting”
Mimms says no matter what college Jackson picks, she will excel at the next level. “She’s 6-2 and is able to step out and shoot outside and then able to go inside and play on the block. She is very hard to defend. She leads us in rebounding and scoring. She’s a huge part of our offense and is just a complete basketball player.”