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Archive for Sunday, July 13, 2003

Oklahoma pipeline pays for KU

July 13, 2003

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Kansas University is developing quite a basketball recruiting pipeline to the state of Oklahoma.

Friday's oral commitment of Midwest City High senior Darnell Jackson means the Jayhawks have landed three Oklahomans -- incoming freshmen J.R. Giddens and Jeremy Case are the others -- the past two recruiting seasons.

"I'm not sure what it means except me, Jeremy and J.R. are coming to KU, and it's a good combination," the 6-foot-9, 236-pound Jackson said.

Jackson, who averaged 20 points and 12 boards last season at Oklahoma City's NW Classen High, is best friends with Giddens, KU's incoming 6-foot-5 jumping jack from Oklahoma City's John Marshall High.

"J.R. and I are like brothers. We are close," said Jackson, a former AAU teammate of both Giddens and Case, 6-0 from McAlester, Okla.

The Giddens and Jackson families are close. In October, Jackson's mother, Shawn, drove her son and Giddens to Late Night With Roy Williams at Allen Fieldhouse.

"I just got off the phone with J.R.'s mother. She is so excited," Shawn Jackson said Friday, referring to Dianna Giddens. "J.R. and Darnell really are like brothers. A lot of people think it was J.R.'s choice for Darnell to commit to Kansas."

J.R. indeed is a fan of his long-time buddy.

"Darnell has worked so hard on his game," Giddens said in a recent interview with the Journal-World. "He is a great friend."

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Why now?: Shawn Jackson on KU's interest in her son: "Bill has been on Darnell hard. They have made it clear they wanted him a long time."

"Oh, they have offered me awhile," Darnell Jackson said of KU. "I've been interested in them a long time, ever since I first visited."

Jackson plans to make one more visit to KU, perhaps timing his official recruiting visit for Late Night With Bill Self Oct. 17.

"I will be back again this year. I wouldn't miss that," Jackson said.

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Gridiron great: Jackson has played basketball just three years, concentrating on football before that.

"I played football for eight years," said the former tight end/lineman. "I just started watching guys play basketball. I watched and saw what they could do. My friend Cory Colbert (Boys Club teacher) taught me so much. I didn't like playing at first, and he taught me how to play the game the summer after eighth grade -- the fundamentals and what I need to do. I owe him a lot."

Jackson had skills in football.

"We always thought he'd be here playing football at OU," Jackson's mom said. "Darnell just started playing basketball his freshman year. That shows you the time and energy he has put in to earn a scholarship in just three years."

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Good camp: Jackson's stock rose after this week's effort at Nike camp. Arizona, in fact, had become a major player in his recruitment.

"I thought I played real well at Nike," Jackson said.

Did he dominate?

"I tried," he said, laughing. "I am going to have a good senior year."

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McDonald's in Jackson's future?: The McDonald's All-America game will be held in Oklahoma City this year. It's possible Jackson will be one of the 20 players to compete.

"He is just a force. You can just see the talent. He's definitely a top-100 recruit," said Mike Strain, writer for the Daily Oklahoman. "I remember watching him as a sophomore at a (summer) tournament standing out there hitting three-pointer after three-pointer. He has a soft touch."

Jackson is currently ranked 107th in the country by rivalshoops.com. It's likely his ranking will skyrocket in coming months, especially after his commitment to powerhouse KU.

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Future may be in medicine: Jackson already is thinking about his academic major at KU.

"Business management. If I don't do that, I'll major in nursing," he said.

Why not be a doctor?

"Eh, I don't like all that. I just like taking care of people," he said.

In his spare time, Jackson likes to, "go to the gym, shoot and go to the movies, chill at the mall," Jackson said.

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Big men recruits: Jackson on the possibility KU will continue recruiting Kalen Grimes, 6-9 from Florissant, Mo., who likes KU, Illinois and Missouri.

"If they recruit another big guy, I'll work that much harder to get to play with that big guy at the same time or beat him out," Jackson said.

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Leaving home: Some figured Jackson's mom would have a hard time letting Darnell leave the nest. Jackson's father is deceased.

"We are very close," she said. "But if he wanted to go to Alaska to college, I'd support him and send him to Alaska. It's not so far I can't drive up there and I really like and trust the coaches at Kansas."

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Two more scholarships to give: KU has two scholarships to give in recruiting. Prime possibilities remain Grimes; Malik Hairston, 6-6 from Detroit; Alexander Kaun, 6-11 from Melbourne, Fla., originally from Siberia; A.J. Ratliff, 6-2 from Indianapolis; and many others.

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