MEN'S BASKETBALL: Shooting Prowess Makes BC’s Jackson A Leader On The Court
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 23:02
When a head coach takes over a new program, it is often said that he should be given the proper amount of time to bring in “his guys” and implement his system completely. In the case of coach Steve Donahue and the men’s basketball team, Lonnie Jackson has become an integral part of this process, clearly one of Donahue’s guys.
The guard out of Valencia, CA, projects an image of his coach—a calm, cool, and collected individual on-and-off the court, rare for a player in today’s environment of billion-dollar endorsement deals and flair that permeates every facet of the professional and collegiate games. In short, Jackson understands what it means to be a fundamental basketball player.
When prompted to describe his role on this young team, Jackson gave an answer that could have come from Donahue.
“My job is to be a leader on the court, defensively and offensively—to spread the floor, spot up, share the ball, making the right pass, the extra pass,” he said. “Basically just being a competitive leader and playing the role of spotting up and getting my teammates involved.”
Watching the struggles of Donahue’s squad, one cannot help but forget that Jackson is only a sophomore. That Donahue’s regular rotation contains not one upperclassman is something that is often overlooked by detractors of both coach and team. The youth of this Eagles team is something that has thrust Jackson into a leadership role perhaps a bit earlier than he originally anticipated.
Jackson has embraced that role with a predictable enthusiasm and has become somewhat of a coach on the court for Donahue, a fact that cannot be overlooked through all the program’s growing pains.
But what truly makes Jackson a unique weapon for this team is his deadly shooting ability. Jackson spends long periods of each game roaming the perimeter and waiting for the kick-out pass that comes from a cutting guard, be it Olivier Hanlan or Joe Rahon.
Jackson’s 127 attempts from behind the 3-point arc are 31 more than Rahon, who has attempted the second most threes on the team. Perhaps most impressive, though, is Jackson’s ability to convert, as he leads the team in 3-point percentage (.394) of any player who has attempted more than 10 threes.
“Coach says that if I have any ounce of space he wants me to take the shot,” Jackson said of his shooting prowess. “He also wants me to take shots that I wouldn’t normally take. He says that if I’m within six feet of the 3-point line, he wants me letting it go. My dad has something called a Shotmaster that I used growing up and still use. It’s basically something to help me replicate the same shot every time. I shoot the same way every time when I’m practicing. Wherever I catch the ball, I’m going up with it. I’m not dipping it, so I can get it off quickly.”
Donahue echoed Jackson’s description of his shot almost identically, and was quick to credit the impressive work ethic of his guard for molding such a deadly shot.
“A lot of the credit goes to him,” Donahue raved. “I think what sets him apart as a shooter is his ability to get the ball into his shooting pocket quickly, where he doesn’t need much time. It’s a credit to him and his father, who he’s worked with greatly on his shot. That’s what we thought we could utilize in our offense when we saw him. He works extremely hard on his shot and does an incredible amount of extra shooting before practice and after practice. I think that a lot of guys can shoot it, but that a lot of guys can’t necessarily get it off as quickly. His accuracy from distance in pressure situations is one of the major ways in which Lonnie thrives.”
One of the most important things to Jackson is that he not be labeled as only a 3-point shooter, however. One moment the sophomore is reminiscing on a high school game where he hit 11 3-pointers, his own personal record, and the next he is quickly dispelling the notion that his game is one-sided.
For any player to be one of Donahue’s guys, he has to make the grade on both ends of the floor. Jackson does just that.
“There are so many intangibles to Lonnie,” said Donahue of Jackson’s two-way abilities. “He works extremely hard, he’s vocal, very competitive every day in practice, and I think he’s developed his all-around game very well.”
These are all the things that Donahue and his staff saw in Jackson when they recruited him to the Heights in the summer of 2010. As Jackson describes it, the process that brought him to the Heights was not exactly normal.
“My recruitment at BC came pretty late in the process,” Jackson said. “I was talking to a lot of schools on the West Coast and the Ivy League, not Cornell though. After the Vegas tournament, it was a quick process. The staff here called me, because they had seen me play in Vegas. Coach [Nat] Graham came out to see me play with my high school. The next day, coach Donahue called me and offered me a scholarship. The next week, I came out here for a visit, and then I committed. It was an extremely quick process in how it happened and luckily it worked out.”
Donahue echoed many of those same sentiments regarding Jackson’s recruitment. “I saw a kid that could shoot the ball and was very competitive,” the coach said. “His team won the Vegas tournament, which was a big time tournament. I thought he would be a nice building block to start with this program.”
This rapid sequence led to Jackson becoming a part of Donahue’s first recruiting class at BC along with Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann, Dennis Clifford, Eddie Odio, and Jackson’s AAU teammate, KC Caudill.
Jackson points to that AAU experience in the Pump ’n Run program as being especially important for his development in becoming the player he is today. It would be with Double Pump Elite that Jackson would win the prestigious Vegas Tournament, earning the exposure to Donahue that would lead to his quick commitment.