By LARRY VAUGHT
His junior season he played with Spire Academy in Ohio, a team that featured guard LaMelo Ball and Rocket Watts. That left Isaiah Jackson to fill a role while Ball, who played overseas last year and should be a top five pick in the NBA draft, and Watts, who averaged 9.0 points per game at Michigan State last season, were the team’s stars.
For his senior season, the 6-9 Jackson transferred to Waterford Mott High School in Michigan and became his team’s star. He averaged 19.7 points, 13 rebounds, 7.7 blocks, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
“As the season went on, he got more acclimated and comfortable in his situation with us,” said Waterford Mott coach David McGlown. “He started hanging with the guys more. His game got better and better.
“He was putting in work on his own away from practice. His whole game just kept improving. His jump shot improved. His court awareness got better. On the court, his work ethic was through the roof.”
He also handled being the center of attention, especially after signing with the University of Kentucky and coach John Calipari in November.
“He handled it with grace. I told him it would be really different. He had played with Ball and Rocket. He never had to worry about being the only star guy on the team,” McGlown said. “I told him he would have to take the bull by the horns with us because he would be a marked man.
“Every game you could see him get more comfortable with that. By the end of the season, he was just taking off. It really hurt that our season got cut short (by COVID-19) because I feel like we had a great chance to win the state championship and he was going to be the guy to get that done for us.”
McGlown says Jackson has worked out a lot with his cousin, a trainer, after the high school season was halted but has not been able to get inside a gym very often even though that should change soon when he gets to report to UK.
“Isaiah has not been able to do a lot with the basketball, just a little stuff outside. But he’s staying in great shape,” his coach said.