From player to coach, Jackson makes impact

As a basketball player at the University of Detroit Mercy, I was elated when the athletic director welcomed Jermaine “J.J.” Jackson to the coaching staff in 2015. 

The following words, spoken by coach Jackson, can be heard many times at practice: “There are only a few select outstanding individuals that can make that special basketball pass: myself, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash and John Stockton.”

As a basketball player, Jackson played for a number of teams in the NBA: the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and his hometown Detroit Pistons. 

He played professional basketball for 15 years and had a great experience playing the game he loves.

“Playing in the NBA changed my life,” he said. “Playing in the league taught me a lot of life lessons and character.”

When Jackson arrived on UDM’s campus as an assistant coach, it seemed as though everyone here expected him to impact the program. 

During the first practice, coach Jackson gave grand lectures to the team about what it means to be a special basketball player. 

He initially observed that the team was playing robotically and needed to loosen up to gain chemistry. He told members to have some “swag” about themselves, which meant putting more emphasis on individuality and ingenuity. 

He frequently pushed each player in every drill. He encouraged players to compete against each other and taught them things that he learned to help them be successful while playing.

“Coach Jackson knows how to connect with the players,” senior guard Anton Wilson said. “He might nag you about your skills and performance, but he also will uplift you when you are doing well.”

Jackson has been coaching for four years, and he loves every single moment of it. He began his high school coaching career at Mount Clemons High School in Michigan, where he won the honor of Coach of the Year in 2013.

Jackson coached his team all the way to the regional finals two years in a row, a rare occurrence in the world of Class A high school basketball.

Jackson’s coaching record was 48-4, a remarkable statistic.

“It's all about the kids,” he said. “Without them, there wouldn't be any need for coaches.”

Jackson gets to know all his players on a personal level, and he interacts with them frequently. He makes it a point to talk to them about life and to teach them about the game. 

“Coach Jackson is one of the best coaches that I have ever been coached by," freshman guard Josh McFolley said. “He taught me a lot about the game and life.”

Jackson loves to give back to his community. He has his own center, the Jermaine Jackson Community Center, which has been up for four years now.

He also does a lot of work for local youth and helps feed the homeless every week. He trains his former players and professional athletes at his community center.

“The one thing I can say about Coach Jackson is that he a great role model,” Titan junior guard Patrick Robinson said. “He is always pointing out the little things that I need to work on in the classroom and on the court.” 

As a coach, Jackson hopes to contribute this year to a winning season at the university.

So far we are on track to achieve it. Our record is 15 wins and 13 losses.

o Brundidge is a VN staff writer and UDM men’s basketball player