In this next installment of College Basketball Narratives, we bring you Jim Jackson, the Ohio State legend who is one of the greatest talents college hoops has ever seen.
WATCH: College Basketball Narratives- Jim Jackson
College Basketball Narratives- Jim Jackson
One of the top recruits in the Class of ’89 out of Toledo’s Macomber High School, Jackson stepped onto the Ohio State campus as a freshman with the highest of expectations. And he did not disappoint. He proved that he was a rare talent with exceptional skills that were far beyond what any teenager could hope to possess.
But Jackson did much more than that during his three years in Columbus by resurrecting the Buckeyes program to elite status, elevating them to levels that had not been seen at Ohio State in many, many years.
Starting 93 consecutive games, Jackson led Ohio State to three NCAA tournaments and two Big Ten championships before foregoing his senior season to turn pro. And he excelled in every chamber of the game, putting his fingerprints all over every contest he played with his vicious, delicious and nutritious abilities to score, pass, defend and rebound.
Whatever his team needed, that’s what he did with aplomb and a conservative yet funky efficiency that had some comparing him to a New Jack version of another Ohio college hoops legend, the University of Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson, aka The Big O.
The 6-foot-6-inch guard/forward was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1990 and the Big Ten Player of the Year in back-to-back years as a sophomore and junior. He was also a two-time All-American and the National College Player of the Year as a junior, leading the Buckeyes to the Elite Eight.
Buckeyes’ player Jim Jackson spins to the baseline for the layup
If one game could encapsulate his rare essence, it would have to be the February showdown against No. 4 Indiana in 1991 with the Big Ten title on the line. The Hoosiers were led by the smooth Calbert Chaney and their freshman sensation Damon Bailey. OSU point guard Mark Baker was injured ten minutes into the contest, and the Swiss Army Knife Jackson slid over to run the point for the remainder of the game.
With OSU trailing 78-76 and seven seconds left in regulation, Jackson took the inbounds pass and boogied three-quarters up the court and hit a one-handed runner in the lane over Indianas Jamal Meeks and Eric Anderson just before the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
With the game tied at 95-95 in the second overtime, Jackson again went down the lane. But when the 6-foot-9 Anderson stepped in his path, he dished the ball to teammate Treg Lee on the baseline, who converted the short jumper with four seconds left to secure the 97-95 victory. Jackson finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
In a time when the Fab Five was grabbing all the headlines, Jim Jackson was putting in some serious work. He led Ohio State in scoring in each of his three years as a starter and was the Buckeyes’ leading rebounder as a junior.
Jackson remains one of the school’s leaders in career points, points per game, assists, steals and 3-point field goals made.