Import With An Inside Presence

On: 13 February 2009

A.J. Jackson

A physically imposing 6-6, 230-pound forward will be the import of Sta. Lucia Realty when the KFC PBA Fiesta Cup starts on 28 February 2009 in Dumaguete City. A.J. Jackson was a Robert Morris University Colonials second leading scorer and rebounder during the 2006-2007 NCAA season.

“He’s a fresh graduate (last year). He went to France but never played. We settled for young one for I know he wants to make an impact. What we liked about him is that he’s a team player and a hard worker,” SLR mentor Boyet Fernandez said.

Jackson's success has not come without a long wait and considerable hard work though.

After an outstanding scholastic career highlighted by consecutive WPIAL Class A boy's basketball championships in 2001 and 2002 for Monessen playing under veteran Greyhounds' head coach Joe Salvino, Jackson began his collegiate basketball and academic career at East Tennessee University after receiving first-team Associated Press All-State honors in 2003.

As a freshman in 2003-2004, Jackson served as an understudy to ESTU's Zakee Wadood, who was the 2004 Southern Conference Player of the Year. A patient, if frustrated, Jackson appeared in only seven games and averaged 6.1 minutes, 3.7 points, and 2.4 rebounds a game. Showing his talents when called upon, Jackson scored a career-high 16 points with five rebounds in a victory over Mars Hill (Asheville, N.C.) College in late November 2003.

In compliance with NCAA transfer rules, Jackson had to sat out the entire 2004-2005 season after transferring from East Tennessee State University to Robert Morris in May of 2004. However, he continued to practiced with the Colonials, who compiled an 11-7 overall record in the Northeast Conference (NEC), the team's best conference showing in five years.

"We expected A.J. to have an immediate impact and he certainly has not disappointed anyone," Colonials' fifth-year head coach Mark Schmidt said of Jackson, who became Monessen's all-time career-leading scorer with 1,757 scholastic points.

"He's gotten stronger over the last year, and A.J. certainly gives us a physical presence on the inside.What really also adds to his effectiveness and opens up opposing defenses is his ability to hit the outside shot," Schmidt added.

Through eight games in 2005-2006 season, Jackson is averaging 16.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 31.1 minutes a game. He is shooting nearly 45 percent from the floor (36/81), 70 percent from the foul line (34/49) and he has converted six of 10 three-point attempts. He also has eight assists, four blocks, and nine steals.

Unlike at Eastern Tennessee State where he scored more than half of his points in one game, Jackson has been consistent on a nightly basis. He has recorded four "double-doubles" in eight games, including a 20-point, 12-rebound effort in his second game, a 100-64 home win over Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania on 26 November 2005.

Two nights later, Jackson netted 18 points and pulled down a then career-high 14 rebounds in a nine-point home victory over the University of Maine.

His other "double-doubles" included 14 points and 11 rebounds in a 71-65 loss at the University of New Hampshire on 6 December 2005 and a 19-point, career-high 16-rebound performance in a 97-85 home win over Charleston Southern University on 17 December 2005. The 12-point victory over the Buccaneers gave the Colonials only their third 3-0 start at home in 14 years.

In Robert Morris' only conference game during the pre-2006 portion of the season, Jackson scored 19 points with seven rebounds in a 90-85 road victory at Quinnipiac College, located in Hamden, Conn.

Jackson's 16 rebounds against Charleston Southern marks the first time a Colonial has finished with at least 15 boards in a game since Keith Jones grabbed 15 rebounds in a 66-58 win over Monmouth (West Long Branch, N.J.) University in early January 1998, a span of 221 games.

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