Jaden Jackson stepping into leadership role on a depleted roster
The Utah Valley University men’s basketball team came into this season with just one returning starter, so the Wolverines were forced to start the season with players that had minimal experience in the ranks of Division I basketball. Jaden Jackson is one of a five seniors on the team who has stepped into a leadership role and who hopes to cap off his college career with a memorable season.
After completing two seasons at Salt Lake Community College, Jackson transferred to UVU to finish his career. His junior year was a season of adjustment to a bigger stage of college basketball, and Jackson averaged just 5.4 points and 17.9 minutes per game.
With a multitude of injuries and changes coming with new head coach Mark Pope, Jackson has seen an increased role this season. Jackson is currently the second leading scorer for the Wolverines, posting 14.2 points in 32.5 minutes per game.
“It’s been a crazy year with every change, with a lot of people getting hurt, and lineups going everywhere,” Jackson said. “I mean, we’re undersized so it’s been fun. I’ve been happy about it. I love my guys on my team, and they have confidence in me so I’m just happy to go out there and give them back what they want me to do.”
In his increased minutes, Jackson has also increased his efficiency by shooting 42.6 percent from the field and the same from 3-point range. On his way to scoring a career-high 31 points against the UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros at the UCCU Center on Saturday, Jan. 9, Jackson set a school record with nine 3-pointers.
“Jaden has been playing so well,” Coach Pope said in a statement to wolverinegreen.com. “He feels a real responsibility to this team and has taken on a big leadership role. He’s playing great basketball.”
Halfway through his senior season, Jaden Jackson isn’t looking past his final destination as a Wolverine.
“Obviously we’d like to do well in league here and see if we can win the WAC Tournament and see if we can go to the NCAA Tournament,” Jackson said. “This is my last chance so we might as well give it a run.”
With his sights set high on a run to the NCAA Tournament, Jackson is doing his part to carry an undermanned team as far as he can. By scoring nearly 15 points per game and knocking down 3-pointers at a record pace, Jackson is a man on a mission to win a WAC Championship in his final season at UVU.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.