Duquesne’s Jackson making late draft push
For all the concentrated star power in college basketball in Pittsburgh, there’s at least one guy who didn’t play for the high-profile Pitt Panthers.
He is Aaron Jackson. Surely, you’ve heard of him.
He’s the one who ended his college career by scoring 46 points in a double-overtime NIT loss at Virginia Tech in March, prompting high praise from Hokies coach Seth Greenberg, a former Pitt assistant.
He’s the one who, as a senior, broke Norm Nixon’s school mark at Duquesne for single-season assists.
And, like many of his crosstown counterparts at Pitt, the 6-foot-4 Jackson, a versatile point guard who led Duquesne in scoring (19.3 ppg.) and assists (5.5 apg.), helping the Dukes to their most victories (21) in 38 years, is making a late push to impress NBA teams as the 2009 draft approaches this week.
“Aaron’s stock is jumping up there,” Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. “He’s getting some real good looks late. He didn’t get worn out with early workouts, and now, everyone seems to be getting interested.”
Jackson, a native of Hartford, Conn., was in nearby Boston on Monday to work out in front of Celtics brass.
“I would love to play for Boston,” he said. “I’m from New England. When I was driving around Boston today, I felt like I was destined to play here.”
Among four point guards, Jackson and Bryan Mullins of Southern Illinois were invited back by the Celtics for a second look today. The others were Leo Lyons of Missouri and Kyle McAlarney of Notre Dame.
Mullins is listed on ESPN.com’s latest mock draft as the final point guard to be taken, a late second-round pick at No. 58.
“I started out 27th out of 33 point guards before the draft workouts. I’m up to 19th now,” Jackson said. “ESPN has the first 18 point guards being taken.”
Jackson also has participated in pre-draft workouts for Atlanta, Cleveland, Indiana, Sacramento and Oklahoma City, and he has spent a great deal of time during the past month training at the IMG Basketball Academy in Florida.
“The Pacers loved him,” said Jackson’s agent, Happy Walters, who also represents several Pitt players. “Indiana thought he played really well.”
Jackson said Pacers general manager Larry Bird told him he was intrigued by Jackson’s play.
“He said, ‘I’ll see you in the NBA some day,'” Jackson said. “I don’t worry too much about anything that’s being said now. I know where I think I should be and I’m just going to keep playing my game.”
Jackson’s relentless mode appears to be similar now to that of when he took Duquesne to a number of impressive victories last season, including a 72-68 win over No. 9 Xavier on Feb. 7, scoring 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
“It’s not crazy to say he’s among the best guards at Duquesne since Norm Nixon,” ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas said. “He can get on a (NBA) team, but he’s better off going undrafted. He’s not great in any one area, but he’s solid in every aspect of the game. I like him a lot.”
Bilas said the 2009 draft potential is weak in comparison to most other years.
“But,” he added, “there’s still a lot of star power. Teams will still be able to draft what they need. There aren’t a lot of truly great players, but there are a lot of good pieces.”
Whether he is drafted or goes the free-agent route, Aaron Jackson would like to think he could fit in nicely somewhere.