UW men's basketball: Recruiting class features eager learners

2010-11-09T22:06:00Z 2011-03-15T10:09:57Z UW men's basketball: Recruiting class features eager learnersROB SCHULTZ | rschultz@madison.com | 608-252-6487 madison.com

When Traevon Jackson was young, conversations about basketball with his father, former Ohio State star and NBA player Jim Jackson, centered around playing with tenaciousness, toughness and intelligence.

"I told him, ‘You know what's the most frustrating thing (for an opponent)? Not scoring 30 on a guy, but (keeping) a guy (from scoring). That frustrates him. If you have the ability to do that, you can score and all that, but if you can shut a guy down, that's even worse,"' the elder Jackson said.

His son, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound point guard from Westerville, Ohio, who is set to sign a national letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Wisconsin with three others Wednesday, takes pride in playing defense.

"He takes pride, sometimes too much, in trying to make the right play all the time, which you can't do," Jim Jackson said. "I think (UW) coach (Bo) Ryan will help him decipher between the two, that the mistake is OK as long as it was a thought-out mistake that is not an ill-conceived mistake."

That's one reason why Jackson, an analyst for the Big Ten Network, thinks his son is a perfect fit for the Badgers' program. Traevon Jackson is a developing talent who understands the game and what Ryan and his coaching staff will tell him to get better.

"He's mature for his age," Jim Jackson said. "He understands the bigger picture. I think that was one of the reasons why he chose Wisconsin."

Jackson's official visit to UW in October cemented in his mind exactly why he chose to play for the Badgers. One of the obvious highlights of the visit was attending the football team's victory over then-No. 1 Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium. But what shone brightest for Jackson was seeing how the men's basketball team was truly a family-oriented group.

"They hung out at coach Ryan's house. They talked, they ate, they watched baseball, played air hockey, shot pool. They just communicated," Jim Jackson said. "They went to the movies on the Friday night, at the game they hung out together and talked about the program and talked about college life. Hung out a little bit afterwards."

But Jackson wasn't overwhelmed with information. It was just right.

"That was what he was looking for," his father said. "There wasn't a lot of talk. The players say it and they mean it and you can see it. That makes a big difference when you're playing on the court. When the game gets tough, you can look to your side and see that man has your back genuinely. That means a lot, that wins you games."

Jackson, a strong student who plans to major in business, isn't the only intangibles-laden player among the Badgers' newest recruits.

Frank Kaminsky, a 6-10 forward from Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill., is the son of a former player and college and high school coach.

George Marshall, a 6-foot point guard from Chicago Brooks, attends a selective admissions high school that requires stringent academic requirements and encourages and empowers its students to reach the height of their potential.

Jarrod Uthoff, a 6-8 forward from Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Jefferson, is a 4.0 student who was his junior class president.

Jackson can't wait to watch his son develop his physical and mental game under Ryan.

"Coach Ryan doesn't get the top one-and-done guy, but what he's getting are players who understand how to play and get better in the system and that's why (the Badgers) are a Top 15 team every year," he said.

Wednesday's exhibition game

UW's defense figures to get a good test when the Badgers face NCAA Division II Minnesota State-Mankato in their final exhibition game at the Kohl Center Wednesday.

The Mavericks averaged 86.6 points and shot 49.8 percent overall last season while compiling a 25-5 record. They won the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title with a 17-3 mark.

Mankato is led by senior forward Jefferson Mason, who was named by the Sporting News as a preseason Division II All-American. An all-conference selection and the conference defensive player of the year last season, Mason averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot 61.8 percent overall.

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