(Northwest Christian University)

Former Oregon star Luke Jackson prepares for NAIA head coaching job

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Former Oregon Ducks swingman Luke Jackson was one of the more productive players in college basketball for the early part of last decade, accumulating over 1,900 career points and 700 rebounds on his way to multiple All-Pac 10 teams and even some All-American honors his senior season.

But after an up-and-down pro career that saw the former 10th overall pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers barely play in the NBA due to injury, Jackson is turning his attention to coaching, as the 31-year-old was named the head coach at NAIA Division II program Northwest Christian University earlier this year.

The story of Jackson’s hiring itself is rather interesting, as a chance encounter at a grocery store led to an interview and eventual job offer according to the Portland Tribune.

Not far from the checkout stand, Jackson bumped into Northwest Christian University athletic director Corey Anderson, who wound up checking him out. Anderson was stepping down as NCU’s men’s basketball coach, and would Jackson have any interest in the job?

A few days later, after the two had talked it over some more, the 31-year-old former Creswell High star had the job — his first as a coach. It meant hanging up the sneakers as an oft-injured, world-traveling pro player, but Jackson was ready.

“I had been praying for something I could sink my teeth into, that I could be passionate about and that could make me walk away from the game,” he says. “And I was hoping it would be coaching.”
Although Jackson won’t get a lot of immediate buzz from the college basketball mainstream for taking a NAIA job, it is important to note that he’s only 31 years old and also going to run his own program at a very young age for the coaching profession.

Jackson has immediate local ties in the Oregon area and has already focused his attention on things like recruiting and fundraising. Northwest Christian has already received commitments from two players transferring out of Oregon — Austin Kuemper and Coleton Banks — as Jackson looks to rebuild a team that finished 9-21 last season.

Whether Jackson is interested in coaching at the NCAA Division I level is currently unknown, but he’ll certainly gain some valuable experience at Northwest Christian.

Scott also writes for NY2LA Sports and can be followed on Twitter @sphillipshoops

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.