Darnell Jackson doesn't just look big on the basketball court.
He plays big.
"He's a power player, very physical," Kansas University freshman power forward C.J. Giles said of Jackson, a 6-foot-9, 240-pounder from Midwest City, Okla.
Jackson, who has played organized football eight years and basketball just four years, realizes his well sculpted body -- he's 10 pounds heavier than the 6-10 Giles -- could land him some playing time not only during KU's four-game exhibition trip to Canada over Labor Day weekend, but also in actual games this season.
"I think I can best help the team by rebounding, scoring little putbacks," said Jackson, who realizes the Jayhawks need to replace the 9.4 rebounds a game David Padgett and Jeff Graves combined to average a year ago.
"It's going to be very competitive. It just depends who goes the hardest and who rebounds, plays defense and runs the floor. That's how I see it."
Jackson sees any playing time his freshman year as a bonus. He already has achieved a lot in landing a major-college scholarship.
"I think I have a lot to prove. I guess some people don't think I deserve the chance to come to Kansas and play just because I've only played four years. It's a God-blessing for me to get here and play with Wayne (Simien), Aaron (Miles), Mike (Lee) ... all of 'em."
Jackson worked on his body and his game all summer. He was off to a quick start for KU during pre-Canada workouts until suffering an ankle sprain which kept him out of Sunday night's practice.
"He was doing very well," KU coach Bill Self said. "He's very competitive. He has a mature body. He's certainly willing to put it on people. He's very coachable and a quick learner."
Jackson's best buddy, KU sophomore J.R. Giddens, likes Jackson's progress.
"He's worked so hard on his game. He's already come a long way. I'm proud of him," Giddens said.
There's a chance Giddens and Jackson might play together just one year because Giddens is considered a possible early-entrant into the NBA draft.
"I've got a feeling he'll stay and play here a while," Jackson said of Giddens. "We're close, like brothers."
Jackson said he has grown close to the entire freshman class of Giles, Alex Galindo, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Matt Kleinmann.
"We hang out all the time, every day," Jackson said. "We eat together, shoot around together. Everybody is nice and funny. We like to hang out together and make each other laugh."
He discussed the strengths of KU's other scholarship big men.
"Wayne is so strong with a lot of moves on the block," Jackson said of senior Wayne Simien. "Sasha is strong. He has a nice lefthanded jumper, I'll give him that.
"Mou (Moulaye Niang) has a nice turn-around jump shot. C.J. Giles is really good. He has a nice jump shot and midrange game. He's quick on the dribble."¢
Injury update: KU has had three of its 10 pre-Canada practice sessions.
"I would say tonight was excellent considering we don't know what we're doing," Self said Sunday. "It was very good considering Darnell didn't practice and Keith did not practice."
Keith Langford landed awkwardly and jammed his back. Both Jackson's and Langford's injuries were not believed to be serious.¢
Newcomers impress: Self has been pleased with the five scholarship newcomers, plus walk-on Matt Kleinmann.
"I think they'll all be good players," Self said. "They've all had their moments. All five have done well and Matt's done well."