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When you watch Ohio State gazelle Evan Turner operate on a college basketball floor, you see a supremely competitive and confident 6-foot-7 athlete who can impact a game with his scoring, rebounding and playmaking. Turner, a national player of the year candidate, can make everyone around him better.
When a former Ohio State basketball icon, Jim Jackson, watches Turner, does he see many of the same things? Especially since the 6-6 Jackson has already been there and done that as a two-time All-American and Player of the Year in the Big Ten Conference. Might he even see Jim Jackson in Evan Turner?
"I do," said Jackson, 39, a men's basketball analyst for the Big Ten Network who had an adventuresome NBA career - 14 seasons, 13 teams - after being the fourth player taken overall in the 1992 draft. (Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner were the top three picks.)
"The difference is, Evan has to do everything," Jackson said. "He has to run the point and be in every play in order for Ohio State to be successful. I was fortunate that I didn't have to do everything all the time or my numbers would have been a lot different."
At that, Jackson's number - the No. 22 he wore during his three seasons with the Buckeyes - is hanging from the rafters of the Value City Arena. Such a legacy can understandably cast a long shadow on the son of a legend. Not unlike it might on Jackson's son, Traevon Jackson, a 6-2 junior guard at Westerville South High School in suburban Columbus, Ohio.
"At the end of the day, my son has to be comfortable in his own skin and develop who he is," said Jim Jackson, who lives in Toledo, where he was a McDonald's All-American while leading his Macomber High School team to the state title.
Jackson admitted his son's development as a player and a person might be better realized somewhere other than Ohio State because "he's not under the spotlight of being my son and hearing about ‘how his father did this or that when he played.' He can go out and just be Traevon and establish himself."
It's no secret the University of Wisconsin has offered a scholarship to Traevon Jackson. No one can talk about it publicly because of NCAA rules. But it's clear the Badgers would love to add Jackson to their 2011 recruiting class, which already includes two Chicago area products who have given oral commitments: Brooks' George Marshall and Romeoville's Devon Hodges.
UW coach Bo Ryan and assistant coach Greg Gard attended Jackson's game on Jan. 15, the night before the Badgers played the Buckeyes in Columbus. Gard also was present Thursday night when Jackson scored 25 points to lead Westerville South (18-0) to a 71-55 victory over Westerville North.
Besides UW, Jackson has scholarship offers from Arizona State, Miami (Ohio), Cleveland State, Akron and Ohio University. The Buckeyes have not offered, in part, because they signed three guards for their 2010 recruiting class.
"He has to understand that it's a business," Jim Jackson said of recruiting, "He gets first-hand knowledge of how it works in regards to how to handle yourself and communicate with people and how to deal with the BS a lot of times; seeing who's real and who's not. It's a great learning experience if it's done and monitored the right way."
What is Jim Jackson most proud of?
"His maturity," he said. "He carries a 3.7 (grade-point average), he has a job during the year (bagging groceries) and he's very mature about how he handles his business. Sports come and go. But his outlook on the big picture as far as what he wants to be in life is a great testament to his mom who helped raise him, and Traevon as an individual."
The Badgers, under Ryan, have had a Travon (truh-von) Davis and a Trevon (tray-von) Hughes. Could a Traevon be on the way?