May 13, 2009

At Last, Joe Jackson Speaks to TSR

Everyone that sees Joe Jackson play basketball can infer that he's elusive.

The elusiveness he exhibits on-the-court, however, translates into elusiveness off it, as well.

TigerSportsReport has been incessantly itching for an interview with the dynamic junior guard out of local White Station High School, and after months, the itch has been scratched.

I finally caught up with Jackson and asked him questions that the Tiger Nation -- and others -- were dying to hear the answers to.

John Martin: First off, how did John Calipari migrating to Kentucky affect your college decision, if at all?

Joe Jackson: "On John Calipari, I mean, he still recruits me right now. It really hasn't changed a lot; Kentucky's still in the mix, Memphis is still in the mix, and Tennessee -- so it hasn't really affected my recruitment. I'm just taking it day-by-day, you know. Calipari, he's still there. Everybody's still in the same spot, basically."

JM: Where do you stand with Memphis right now?

JJ: "Oh man, I'm always a Tiger fan. Memphis is my top priority, because that's where I'm from. As long as the spot is available and the situation's right, then it's all good. But if something else comes up, because of a bad situation, I'll have to look another way."

JM: Did Eric Bledsoe to Kentucky work towards Memphis' favor?

JJ: "I don't know, because I mean, Eric -- when I talked to him -- said he was liking Memphis, and then like, two days later, he committed to Kentucky. So I don't really know where he stands, but I know he's a good player. He could play at Memphis, I know that."

JM: So is it true that you played one-on-one with him at the Finch Center?

JJ: "No, I didn't play one-on-one with him; we played five-on-five in a scrimmage against the Tigers. We were like the one-on-one matchup, because they wanted to see me and him go at it. It wasn't a one-on-one thing; it was just a scrimmage game."

JM: How does it feel to be a state champion?

JJ: "How does it feel to be a state champion? It feels wonderful. I mean, to be able to be in history as one of the best teams to come out of Memphis to win the state, to have a state championship ring to show for it, that just feels wonderful. It just makes you feel that all the things you did for the season, that you accomplished. It feels great."

JM: Is there one thing that you're going to specifically remember about this White Station team?

JJ: "The one thing that will stand out about this team is the teamwork. I mean, we struggled with teamwork during the regular season, but everyone just picked it up and played as a team player during the playoffs; I mean, we just came together as a team. We showed a lot of team camaraderie."

JM: Is there any truth to the rumors of you playing at the combo guard position?

JJ: "See, naturally I'm a scorer, so people are gonna say that I'm gonna be a combo, but really, I'm just a scoring point guard. I like to score points, and still, I like to pass and get other guys involved. But being a combo guard? I mean, if that's what's gonna get me paid, then that's what I'll do. But as of now, I'm a starting point guard."

JM: Is there anybody, active or not, that you like to model your game after?

JJ: "My favorite players in the league are Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. That's who I model my game around, because the way they attack and just carry themselves. I like that. I like the way they approach the game."

JM: How do you feel about Josh Pastner?

JJ: "Josh Pastner, see him everyday. I'm always at the Finch, and he always comes up there. I see him all the time. We're good friends. We talk, we sit down and talk, and we know where each other stands. From every angle. From his coaching to the schoolwork. We already got good on that."

JM: When you're making your college decision, you've said you want the right situation. What exactly is the right situation for you?

JJ: "The right situation for me is a good coach, great teammates, a good coaching staff, a good system to play in, fans, and just a city that loves their players. A city that loves whatever college it is, that they come to the games, sold out, I like all that."

JM: Do you remember the first team that ever recruited you?

JJ: "Ummmm ... the first team that ever recruited me, I think, was Memphis. I can't really remember, but I think it was Memphis. Memphis and Tennessee. They were the first two that just really went hard and tried to get me."

JM: If you had to make a top 3 as of May 13th, 2009, who is your top three?

JJ: "It would have to be Memphis, Tennessee, and Kentucky."

JM: Kentucky's always been in the mix though, right? Even before Calipari?

JJ: "Not really, because they didn't have a good coach to me. Not trying to see anything bad about him, but when Calipari went, that just made it better, because he's a good coach. He knows how to get guys to the next level."

JM: Do you talk with any of the Tiger players, and if so, who?

JJ: "I always talk to Chance and Tyreke. I know all of them, basically. When I go to the Finch, they're working out so I just always chat with them, and they tell me about the school and stuff."

JM: Where does your family want you to go?

JJ: "My family, they want me to go wherever I'm happy. It's not about where they want me to go, they know that it's all my decision, and whatever decision I make is going to affect my career. So, they just want me to make the right decision."

JM: So it's Memphis, Tennessee, and Kentucky in the top 3?

JJ: "Yeah, that's it. That's the top 3, but I have more. Ohio State, Mississippi State ... want me to name some more for you? Texas, Duke, Marquette, Villanova, Syracuse, and Connecticut."

So, after sifting through all of this, what does one make of this interview?

He's good friends with Josh Pastner, John Calipari jumped ship to Kentucky and immediately sailed his way into Jackson's top three, his ideal situation is a place that has a good coaching staff, team, and a ton of fan support, and he is quite adamant about playing the point guard position.

Oh, and that he's a very, very coveted guy.

His personality is almost identical to his game; quirky, impromptu, and dynamic. He knows what it takes to succeed in the game of basketball; he just needs the right situation to excel in.

One thing he doesn't know though?

Just exactly where that right situation lies.

We have a strong feeling, however, that finding that situation is a top priority.

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