Just a few short months after Ritchie McKay returned to Liberty as head coach in April 2015, he was impressed by a lanky 8th grader in Kansas who was playing for a home school team. Upon visiting a practice to watch Jonathan Jackson play, McKay immediately offered the younger brother of former North Carolina star and current NBA player Justin Jackson. That early commitment and never giving up on him, was the primary reason Jackson committed to Liberty this week.
“It’s probably the biggest part,” Jackson said of McKay being the first to offer. “He stuck with me this whole time. He’s always believed in me for who I am, just him always believing in me in every situation, gives me the confidence that it will always be this way.”
The 6’4″, 175 pound guard chose Liberty over an offer from Oklahoma State. He also has had countless schools express interest in him during his high school career, but Liberty feels like home.
“First and foremost,” Jackson said, “it was where I felt the Lord was leading me. The coaching staff is amazing. I love every single one of the coaches. They all believe in me. Coach McKay has believed in me for a long time. I feel like the environment that Liberty has is perfect for me.”
Jackson committed following a weekend tournament with his AAU team, MOKAN Elite. They were in Atlanta for a tournament and Liberty associate head coach Brad Soucie was in town to watch the newest Liberty pledge in person. MOKAN is one of the best AAU teams in the country as the roster is littered with Division I talent. Jackson spent his junior season of high school this past year playing for Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, Kansas.
“I know Liberty is on the up and up right now,” Jackson said of the Flames’ recent success including the NCAA Tournament appearance and first round upset of Mississippi State. “But the coaches are talking to me about not wanting to stop now. I just want to join in on that and help wherever I can.”
If Jonathan ends up having a college career anything like his brother’s, Liberty fans will all be delighted. The older Jackson took the ACC by storm during his career, winning a national championship and being named the ACC Player of the Year following the 2016-17 season while also setting the school record for single season three pointers made. He’s now playing for the Dallas Mavericks.
“I’ve seen stuff that pretty much nobody has seen before,” Jonathan said of his brother’s work ethic growing up. “I see how much it takes to get to where he’s at now and get to where he’s been before.”