Several prep athletes have had their parents serve as coaches. It’s a little different when that coach played 13 years as a professional.
Jermaine Jackson took over as coach of the Mount Clemens boys basketball team last season. This season, Jackson welcomed his son, freshman Jermaine Jackson Jr., to the team. The 5-foot-6-inch, 135-pound point guard has already made an impact, scoring in double figures in several of the Bathers’ 12 games. Jackson tallied 30 points in a 75-27 win over Port Huron Northern Jan. 22.
“(Jackson Jr.) is a student of the game,” said the elder Jackson of his son. “He looks for a lot of different things. When I’m watching film at home, he’ll come sit and watch film with me without me even asking.”
Over the course of his 13-year professional career, Jackson Sr. played with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks. He also played in leagues in Spain, Italy and Mexico, among other places, winning an Italian Basketball Cup with Pallacanestro Treviso in 2004.
The elder Jackson was a star at the University of Detroit Mercy, winning Horizon League Player of the Year honors in 1998-99 after leading the Titans to a league title. The younger Jackson is already being recruited by a host of schools, such as the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Auburn University, Southern Methodist University, Eastern Michigan University and U of D.
Understanding that his father went through the recruiting process has helped Jackson Jr. immensely.
“He tells me all kinds of things to help me out, and I have to listen because he’s been through it,” he said. “I had barely even played high school basketball and I was getting looks from schools. I knew this would happen if I just kept working hard because I know what hard work leads to.”
His father knows, too.
“I already know what (the colleges and universities) are looking for because I’ve been there — how he needs to play his position and what he needs to do to succeed,” the elder Jackson said. “And it’s easy with him because he’s open to doing everything he needs to do to succeed.”
That includes putting in work in the classroom. Jackson Jr. is a 4.0 student. He understands education is key, saying that without good grades, basketball isn’t even a long-term option.
Jackson Sr. said he’s most proud of his son for the emphasis he places on academics. He said he tells Jackson Jr. that if he does what he needs to do in the classroom, it will show up on the court.
“If you’re in the classroom messing around, you might come to practice or a game and slack off. That can all snowball into something you don’t want to happen,” Jackson Sr. said.
“I haven’t seen a drop in his consistency. That’s what I’m really proud of. I don’t have to tell him, ‘Let’s go get some shots up.’ He asks me to do that because he knows he needs to put the work in. A lot of freshmen wouldn’t take things as seriously as he does.”
Coach Jackson said he tries to refrain from talking basketball at home, as to not overwhelm his son. Jackson Jr. said the conversations at home veer toward basketball because they both love the game so much.
The younger Jackson said he learned a lot from spending a big part of his youth in Europe while his father played professionally. Most notably, he learned different styles of play, which he likes to utilize on the court.
“It gave me a bit of an advantage to see some things, because a lot of kids in the United States don’t do the things players in Europe do, like always looking to pass, constantly moving without the ball, and cutting and working off of screens,” said Jackson Jr., who said he learned to speak Russian and Hebrew while in Europe.
Jackson Jr., 15, also played on a number of travel teams while in Europe. The elder Jackson said he would sit in on the practices and realize the coaches were teaching his son to do all the right things on the court.
“So, when you add that to all of the things he already knows and the skills he has, your game has to be great,” Jackson Sr. said.
He said he gives his son no special treatment, and Jackson Jr. doesn’t expect any.
Jackson Jr. said he treats his father like he would any coach — with respect.
Coach Jackson, who lead Mount Clemens to division and district titles last season, said he trusts his son on the court because he knows when to make the necessary plays and he is easy to coach.
“He just turned 15, but mentally, because of all of the experiences he’s had, he’s about 20 years old,” Jackson Sr. said. “He’s just a really good kid.”
Mount Clemens, which was 12-0, 5-0 Macomb Area Conference Gold Division, at press time and was the lone undefeated team in Macomb County next hits the court for a matchup against Warren Lincoln at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Mount Clemens.