Player Profile: David Jackson

So we started off our player profile series with Tim Frazier in the middle of March.  Then all hell broke loose with all the roster moves, and we decided to put the series on hiatus until the chaos was over.  Well, with Talor Battle now coming back, and Ed DeChellis pulling in some late-signing recruits, we think it's safe to start talking basketballers again.  Today, David Jackson...

At the beginning of the 2009-2010, most Penn State fans expected Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks to be Penn State's impact players in the front court.  David Jackson, the fourth, and often perceived as least talented of the junior class that includes Brooks, Jones, and Battle looked like he'd even be pushed for playing time by young guys Bill Edwards and Chris Babb.

Instead, Jackson emerged as one of the few good stories for the Nittany Lions this winter.  He obliterated his career highs in points per game, rebounds, assists, shooting percentage, three-point percentage, and three-pointers made.  On an offense that was often stagnated and broken, Jackson fired on all cylinders most of the season, and especially in Big Ten play.

After Talor Battle, it wouldn't be hard to argue that Jackson has firmly established himself as the team's best all-around player.  He can rebound, he can score, and perhaps most importantly moving forward, he can shoot the deep ball. 

With Chris Babb moving on to Iowa State, Jackson's range will be critical to the 2010-2011 team.  At the same time, the Nittany Lions are going to need his solid interior play to continue growing, as there is no sure thing anywhere else in the front court.

On a team loaded with guards, Jackson, not Battle, might be the most important player for Penn State this season.

Jackson's season began with the erratic and inconsistent play that had frustrated Penn State fans not only with him, but the other forwards in his class as well.  During the non-conference, Jackson posted double figures in points only four times in 12 games, and pulled down five or more boards only five times. 

On November 25 against Sacred Heart, Jackson went nuts for 26 points, a career high, on 8-10 shooting.  However, he followed that effort up with two points against Virginia, five against Temple, none against Maryland-Baltimore County, 12 against Virginia Tech, two against Gardner Webb, and five against American.

He finished conference play with an average of 7.75 points per game, but if you take out the 26 points against Sacred Heart, that number falls to just over six.  So, as the Nittany Lions entered Big Ten play, Jackson had yet to establish himself, but he'd do just that starting with Minnesota on December 29.

After posting 11 points against the Golden Gophers, Jackson went on to turn in 10 double digit performances in the first 13 games of conference play.  With commentator after commentator throwing the "Penn State is the only BCS school with only one player averaging in double figures" stat in people's faces, Jackson was playing some of the most consistently solid basketball on the team.  His 20 points against Northwestern on February 17 propelled Penn State to it's first conference win on a night when Talor Battle struggled to 10 points on 2-8 shooting and 1-6 from deep.

Jackson average 10.6 points per game in conference play and 4.5 rebounds, solid totals that few expected heading into 2009-2010, and even fewer expected after a slow start to the season.

Good Things

-Jackson's emergence as a scorer was unexpected, and really kept the Lions competitive as Brooks and Jones struggled.  Jackson also seemed to have a knack for slowing opponents when they got on runs with timely buckets.  Sometimes, it's those little things that don't show up on a stat sheet that really show you how valuable a player is.

-Jackson finished the season shooting 37% from three-point land, an outstanding number for a front court guy, and one Penn State is going to rely on him to match in 2010-2011.  With Babb and Battle as the principle deep shooters, Jackson was wide open for a lot of those shots, however.  Expect that to change, at least early in the season, as teams will guard Jackson more closely from deep until one of his teammates can prove he can hurt them from deep.

-Consistency was key for Jackson in his breakout season.  Rarely in conference play did he got for more than 15 or less than eight points.  Most nights, the team knew exactly what it was going to get from him, and on a team where consistency will be key, Jackson needs to continue to set the tone

Bad Things

-This isn't so much something Jackson did poorly as something he can hopefully grow in, but Talor Battle needs a side kick, someone who can help not only keep Penn State in games, but go out and win them.  Jackson appears to be the only player positioned to do that heading into 2011 with Chris Babb gone, so the pressure is going to be on to turn in more of those 15-20 point efforts. 

-Jackson could rebound a little more.  Talor Battle's 5.3 RPG average at point guard is better than Jackson in the three/small forward spot.  With a little more intensity on the glass from Jackson, it'll take pressure off Battle on the defensive end.

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