All charged up: Alcorn’s Jackson sparking Braves into stretch run

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2003

LORMAN &045; The shock wave went through the entire Alcorn State team when leading scorer and rebounder Lee Cook got booted from the squad.

Somebody would have to pick up the slack, but who?

It’s been a balanced attack for the most part, but the biggest contributions may have come from forward Brian Jackson, the unassuming shooter with a strong basketball background who sparked the Braves to a 6-5 mark in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

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He and the Braves visit Mississippi Valley State Saturday.

&uot;I’ve been in a zone shooting the ball well lately,&uot; said the 6-6, 215-pound Jackson, who was named the SWAC Player of the Week Tuesday for averaging 25.5 points in wins over Jackson State and Grambling.

&uot;I feel I had to step up ever since Lee Cook left. Everybody has to step up. I had an ankle injury at the beginning of the year, and I was trying to get into the swing of things. Now it’s starting to come back to me.&uot;

Jackson’s touch has helped the Braves turn their season around of late. Jackson’s shots from the outside triggered a 93-91 win in double overtime against Jackson State Saturday, and he turned around to score 22 to key a 88-79 win over Grambling Monday.

Both were team-highs, Saturday was a personal career high and plenty of his points came at crucial times.

&uot;BJ has been shooting the ball real well,&uot; senior guard Jason Cable said. &uot;Everybody on our team knew what he was capable of doing that. I don’t think he’s going to ever stop. He’s capable of scoring 20 a game for the rest of the season.&uot;

His output, however, has only come on of late after he struggled to score points and get into the flow of things earlier in the season. The two breakout games boosted his season average to just 10 a game, and he’s only been a main scoring threat in recent weeks.

Or to be more specific, as head coach Davey Whitney recalls, the game at Grambling Jan. 13 when he scored 13 points in a 83-66 loss.

&uot;He’s always had the ability to play like he’s playing,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;We want him to go to the boards a little more because he can jump as high as anybody out there. I’m glad to see him come out of whatever he was in. He has helped us out tremendously.&uot;

The funk or slump could be credited to the ankle injury suffered earlier in the season. Whitney noted both he and Cable returned in good physical shape but not in good basketball shape, and it’s taken some time to get to that point.

Plus, Jackson spent some time at the four spot, a position that requires more time underneath and not much out on the perimeter for knocking down the 3-pointer.

&uot;I really wasn’t getting that many touches,&uot; Jackson said. &uot;It was hard. I can play the inside, but I’ve been playing the (No.) 3 my whole life. The outside is my game.&uot;

The result? Jackson didn’t start in nine of the team’s first 15 games, and he averaged 6.6 points a game heading into that Grambling game last month.

That’s when he established more of a role he’s comfortable with &045; being a slasher and not a banger as Cable said.

&uot;His shots weren’t falling, and it could have been because of his ankle,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;It could have been a mental thing. But he’s been on fire since we played Grambling. That was eight games ago, and he’s been on fire since then.&uot;

Jackson has been showing the potential he had ever since he came out of Baker (La.) High School as a standout player and the younger brother of former Nicholls State center Reggie Jackson.

Older brother Reggie played a integral role in the Colonels making the NCAA Tournament in 1995 as a No. 13 seed. He spent time playing professionally in Italy but is back in Louisiana after suffering a broken collarbone.

&uot;We’re very close, and he gives me a lot of support,&uot; Brian Jackson said. &uot;He comes to all the home games. He’s playing the (No.) 3 now. We’re kind of similar. He’s just a little bigger than me, but we have pretty much the same game. I’ve always looked up to him.&uot;

The two Jacksons are eight years apart and have no other siblings. Maybe that was the reason younger Brian never felt like he was playing in his older brother’s shadow in high school.

Reggie Jackson was voted Louisiana Player of the Year in 1995, while his younger brother had his best year as a junior at Baker and earned All-Metro honors before battling a knee injury his senior year.

After receiving interest from all schools in Louisiana, Brian Jackson opted for Alcorn as a non-scholarship player because of the school’s agricultural program.

&uot;One of our instructors here found him,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;We had five non-scholarship when they got here, but they’ve earned them. He’s very quiet and unassuming. I wish he’s have more of a killer instinct. I think he could improve what he’s already doing if he had that killer instinct.&uot;