Even though he just recently finished his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin, Traevon Jackson comes across just like his game- confident, smooth and mature.
For being just 20 years old, he’s so calm and composed, you can’t help but think about where you were in life at 20….and then sheepishly quit punishing yourself.
Some of that confidence undoubtedly comes from his famous genetics and being the son of NBA star player Jim Jackson, but the greater part of it comes from his faith and approach to life, off the court.
After getting limited minutes in the beginning of the year, Jackson became a starter and was a key contributor during the Badgers’ NCAA Tournament run, being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team and hitting multiple game winning shots. Jackson was 15th in the Big Ten in assists as a true sophomore, also leading the team in both steals and finishing second in free throw shooting.
You get the feeling that it isn’t about what Jackson has accomplished thus far, but what he is going to accomplish. And that gets Badger fans excited.
Bullz-Eye- What was your experience like playing in the NCAA Tournament?
Traevon Jackson- “Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. Just the fact of me playing in the tournament was great because it’s the attitude of “loser goes home” and unfortunately we had to go home. But it really puts into perspective what you need to do to prepare for it going forward. And learning from that this year helps us next year.”
You just finished your sophomore year you were a big part of the rotation. What helped your development the most between freshman and sophomore year?
“Mainly going home and working with Anthony Rhodman (Who also trained National Player of the Year Trey Burke). This was my first full summer going back home and doing all the skill work that I needed to work on. Coming back in this year I was way more confident and better overall. It took a little while, had to go thru adversity. I didn’t achieve all the goals I wanted to, but the little bit of success I had is like a glimpse of the future.”
What is one area you’ve improved the most on the court and the most off of it?
“It goes for both- just my faith on and off the court. I’ve always been somewhat of a faithful guy but Ant really opened my heart to the lord and it really took hold of everything I do in life, I do it for the Lord. It’s a bigger purpose now. It really took hold for me on and off the court, doing it for the right reasons, bringing glory to god’s name, when it used to be “I want be the best just for me.” But now it’s not just for me but it’s for, Him, the Lord as well.”
What’s the experience been like at Wisconsin since you committed, versus what you thought it would be?
“Coming out of high school, just like any other freshman I’m sure, I thought I’d come in, play major minutes and be the man. And that wasn’t the case at all. Rarely played in my freshman year, and coming into my sophomore year I wasn’t expected to play either. But some injuries happened and I still didn’t start in the beginning of the year, but as season went on I became starter. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in my two years- overcoming adversity. And if you just stay in the fight because anything can happen if you put in the work.”
What’s the most annoying or creative heckling you have heard in any Big Ten arena?
“A lot of stuff about my dad, but I’ve heard that forever so it’s rare I hear anything new. Honestly, I don’t know. There was this one lady at Indiana after we beat them. It was after the game and I was walking off the court and she was just sitting there on the sidelines. I was walking off the court and apparently I was smiling and she said, “There’s nothing to be smiling at!” It caught me off guard and I thought, “Why are you so mad?” That’s one thing that comes to mind. Fans always say “Jimmy’s better!’ (laughing) but I’m so focused on the game I don’t even pay attention except at maybe at a dead ball.”
Is there added pressure based on who your dad is to succeed? What’s the dynamic of that like?
“Growing up, I felt it more than I do now, but now I don’t even think about it at all, actually. The pressure that I feel now the most is pleasing the Lord. That may sound cliché, but that’s an everyday type of task and the biggest thing for me. As long as I continue to grow in that aspect, there is no other question.”
Who would win a game of one on one right now?
“Oh, me of course (laughing). Easily. He can beat me in golf and all the other, cards, all that stuff, but he’s not beating me on the court.”
How did him moving, playing for 12 different NBA teams, impact you as you were growing up?
“It was great. I got to go to a lot of different cities and see a lot of places I wouldn’t have probably otherwise seen. But, just from watching him, I got to really go thru and experience his career. He started out as a top guy in the league and eventually became a productive role player. Just seeing how he handled it was awesome. It taught me no matter what, and I think about it now when I go through adversity, I never saw him put his head down, he always found a way, just like my mom- keep working hard and good things will come.”
Contact Traevon on Twitter @T_Jacks12