Edwin Jackson, Asvel Basket

Nov 11, 2011 by Javier Gancedo, Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Edwin Jackson, Asvel Basket
Edwin Jackson - Asvel Basket (Photo: Asvel Basket)The road from being a top prospect to a reliable professional player can be difficult sometimes, but Edwin Jackson has managed to travel that road successfully by taking the right steps at the right time. Born to a basketball family, Jackson showed he could be a very special player by helping France win medals at European and World junior championships of virtually all ages from the under-16 to U-20 levels. He was recruited by Asvel Basket before the start of the 2007-08 season, but was sent on loan for two years to have the chance to see extended playing time and complete his development in a more demanding basketball environment. Jackson returned to Asvel last season and took another step forward as part of a nice group of young talents that own the club's future, including Paul Lacombe, Leo Westermann and Kim Tillie. An explosive scorer ready to pull the trigger at all times, Jackson knows the timing is perfect for him to have a breakout season. "I feel I am really helping my team win. As far as the stats are concerned, it is not important how many points I score," Jackson said. "I just want to make the right play at the right moment, play hard defense and get people to say 'Edwin Jackson is a good basketball player who is helping his team win'. This is my main goal for this season. "

Basketball has been in Jackson's blood from the day he was born. His father, Skeeter Jackson, was a famous basketball player who had a long career in France. He played in the country for 16 seasons throughout the 1980s and the 1990s as power forward for Kyon, Racing Paris, Pau-Orthez and Besancon, among others. Skeeter Jackson, who was born in the United States, gained French citizenship and played 38 games for its national team in the late 1980s, during which he averaged 5.5 points. An outstanding rebounder, Skeeter Jackson was a very popular player in French basketball. Edwin was born in 1989 - right at the peak of his father's career and had the chance to follow his father and breathe basketball in his early years, even though he ended up playing in a different position. "Basketball has been around me all my life. I travelled a lot and it was always been a part of my life. I had to move to follow my father and adjust my life around basketball, it has been like that forever," Jackson told Eurocupbasketball.com. "My father is part of our staff now, too. He is really helping me and it is important for me to have grown up in a basketball family."

Like many promising players in France, Jackson started his career at the Centre federal de basket-ball back in 2004, with the chance to play for INSEP, just like other French greats including Boris Diaw and current teammate Tony Parker. Jackson left no doubt about his great future by becoming the French third division’s (Nationale 1) top scorer in the 2006-07 season. He averaged 21.7 points that season and managed to score 45 on 17-of-25 shooting in a game against Charleville-Mezieres in February 27, 2005. By then, all eyes were on him and Jackson decided to sign his first professional contract with Asvel in the summer of 2007. His father played in Lyon, Edwin's hometown, for several seasons and works for the club, so it was an easy choice. "Asvel had a really good working group and the coach of their under-20 team was a friend of my father’s. I knew the the players I was going to play with and my Mom was living in Lyon, plus I wanted to play in my hometown, too."

Edwin Jackson - Asvel Basket (Photo: Asvel Basket)Jackson also shined with the French national youth teams, which confirmed his status as one of the best European players of his generation. He helped the French under-16 national team win the silver medal at the 2005 European championships by averaging 7.9 points in 16 minutes per night. Jackson had 10 points in the title game against Turkey, but France could not take the gold. In 2006, Jackson helped France win the Mannheim International Tournament and the European U-18 Championships before joining Asvel. He then played for France as it conquered the bronze medal at the World U-19 Championships and averaged 13.8 points over nine games. He led France in scoring with 13 points in the bronze medal game against Brazil. Jackson did even better at the European U-18 championships, where he averaged 18.8 points. He said will never forget those competitions and the friends he found there. "Playing for your country is an honor. Every time I go to the national team, I really playeas hard as I can. It is a special feeling to play for your country. All my best friends that I have now, I met then at the French youth teams, players like Nicolas Batum, Antoine Diot, Kevin Seraphin and several other guys. They are my best friends now. These are the best memories I have had as a basketball player - the youth competitions with France."

Despite playing also for its under-21 team, Jackson made his Eurocup debut in the 2007-08 season but saw limited playing time throughout the 2007-08 season. However he did get the opportunity to lift his first trophy with Asvel - the French Cup – that year. Being fully aware of his potential, Asvel was patient with him and did not want to rush things. As such, Jackson has sent on loan in each of the last two seasons and he responded by slowly and steadily becoming a better, more mature player. In 2008-09, Jackson averaged 13 points in 31 French second division games with JSF Nanterre. "I went to Nanterre, a second division team, to get experience and more playing time. I really learned a lot and had a great second year on loan. I made it to the French all-star team in the first division," Jackson said. "The experience was great and helped me to get a lot of confidence. I am playing well so far in the beginning of the season and have a lot more experience that when I first joined Asvel."

Everyone could see his progress that summer, when Jackson shined at the 2009 European U-20 Championships in Greece. Jackson averaged 16 points on 45.7% three-point shooting and 3.3 rebounds in nine games to lead France to the silver. Even though teammates Diot and Seraphin were chosen to the All-Tournament Team, Jackson took over in the title game with 32 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting and 8 rebounds - both game-highs - in a losing effort against Greece. "I knew it was my last game at the youth levels and even though I had 32 points in the final, I was mad we didn't win it," Jackson remembered. "I really wanted to enjoy that last game and I wanted to play really hard to have a good game. Greece had a great team and it was kind of hard to beat them in their own country."

Edwin Jackson - Asvel Basket (Photo: Asvel Basket)Jackson was called to the French national team in 2009, but did play in a game until August 12, 2010, against Canada. Before that, Asvel sent Jackson on loan once again, this time to SPO Rouen Basket in the French elite. Jackson proved to be a really solid player and averaged 10.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 29 games. At age 20, Jackson was already a young veteran who had won several medals with France. He was ready to come back to Asvel and despite seeing limited playing time in the Eurocup last season, he played well in the French League. Jackson proceeded to lead the competition in free throw shooting percentage (93.3%) and averaged 5.6 points in 30 games. He was at his best in the playoffs with a 30-point outburst in the deciding game of the quarterfinals and an average of 13.3 points per game in the semifinals. Jackson’s combination of athleticism, one-on-one skills, a winning mentality and unlimited shooting range makes him one of the most interesting young shooting guards in European basketball.

Jackson has already proved he is ready for extended responsibilities. He had 10 points and 8 rebounds to lead Asvel past Gravelines in the first Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Round game. And even though the team could not beat Galatasaray Medical Park to keep fighting for Euroleague glory, the Eurocup could be a good environment for him to showcase his talent and prove that he is ready to be a really solid player for many, many years – and make his father really proud, too. "I expect my team to win rather than having big responsibilities. I want people to recognize that when I am on the court, I can be productive for my team. I feel I am really helping my team win," Jackson said. "As far as the stats are concerned, it is not important how many points I score - I just want to make the right play at the right moment, play hard defense and get people to say 'Edwin Jackson is a good basketball player who is helping his team win'. This is my main goal this season."