During his senior year of high school, it became publicly known that Memphis Tigers Joe Jackson described himself as the “King of Memphis” with an elaborate tattoo inked across his chest. Over the past two years, the junior guard has learned just how heavy a burden it is to be the king of such a basketball rich city.
Last season, Jackson contemplated transferring after going without a field goal in back-to-back games. Then sat out Memphis’ next game, in what coach Josh Pastner called some time off to deal with a personal matter.
Jackson has had to deal with the ups and downs of college basketball while in the spotlight of a national program.
Jackson was the Tigers’ second-leading scorer for the second straight year last season averaging 11 points and led the team in assists with 3.85 per game. He cut his turnovers by nearly 28 percent from his freshman (115) to sophomore (83) seasons and increased his assists from 109 as a freshman to 131 last season.
The Tigers lost its leader and leading scorer from a year ago, Will Barton, to the NBA. So the question is who will fill that role and is Jackson ready to fill it?
Jackson, who is the back-to-back CUSA Tournament MVP, worked out this summer with Tigers assistant coach Damon Stoudamire on drills but most importantly on his mental approach to the game.
“We can do all the drills, all the shooting, all of that,” Stoudamire said to the Commerical Appeal. “But I think it’s more how Joe prepares from a mental standpoint and being able to block out distractions. Being able, as crazy as it sounds, to not be his own worst enemy.”
It seems to be paying off. During a recent practice, it was reported that Jackson was playing with extreme confidence; knowing when to set up his teammates and when to look for his shot. He was vocal and demanding the ball from teammates.
Patosha Jeffery is the Memphis Tigers Featured Columnist at Rant Sports. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @patoshajeffery