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.