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Irish Ink Top Target Jackson

A long courtship between the Notre Dame men’s basketball team and local four-star point guard Demetrius Jackson is finally over. On Wednesday morning the Mishawaka Marian High School star signed his Letter of Intent to play for head coach Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish along with Philly shooting guard Steve Vasturia, New Haven (Ind.) forward V.J. Beachem and fellow Mishawaka product Austin Torres, a forward at Penn High.

Notre Dame restocked its backcourt with local point guard Demetrius Jackson

According to 247Sports, Jackson (6-2, 185 pounds), who has long been Notre Dame’s primary target at a position of significant need, ranks 59th overall nationally, is rated the 10th-best point guard in the country, the No. 3 recruit in the state of Indiana and has a 247Sports Composite ranking, which averages all major recruiting services’ positions, of No. 32 overall among 2013 prospects.

"That was a key one for us; a lot of work went into that one," Irish head coach Mike Brey said of Jackson. "We're thrilled to have him and thrilled he decided to stay home. We always felt we were in pretty darn good position with him. We maintained a great patience with him through the process. But I think he's going to give us a great shot in the arm, certainly in this community with what he brings.

"And I would add Austin Torres to that, too, two local young men joining our program. All I know is, when I’m out around in town, people are always talking about the two guys we got locally. I’m really excited about that.”

The Irish staff, primarily assistant Anthony Solomon, was relentless, but mostly patient, in closing the deal when Jackson verbally committed on Sept. 27 following an official visit a week earlier. Jackson’s only other official visit was to Illinois, where he might have seen the court more often as a freshman next season. He’ll intern behind Irish point guard Eric Atkins, who will be a senior next year, while likely getting some valuable minutes.

“Demetrius is a very ready guy right away as a freshman,” Brey said Wednesday. “It’s been so interesting to see him become just an athlete playing basketball as a 9th and probably 10th grader, to becoming a guard [and] a good decision maker with the ball. I’m amazed with what he has done with his jump shot and his stroke. He is a shooter now. You know what I love about him? He just loves to work on his game.

“If I do catch him, he’s either going to a workout or he’s coming back from one. Very excited and looking forward to coaching him and what he’ll bring to our program.”

As a junior last winter, Jackson led Mishawaka Marian to its first sectional title since 1969, the program’s first-ever regional crown and a spot in the Class 3A state semifinals. He averaged 23 points per game in 2011-12 and currently holds the program’s all-time scoring mark with 1,398 career points. He added seven assists and eight rebounds per contest. The Knights finished 22-4 after losing to fourth-ranked Norwell 76-67 in the state semis on March 17. His 580 points broke a school record in single-season scoring, which included a single-game record of 42 points.

“He was on the radar for a long time,” Brey said. “Anthony Solomon did a good job of getting the thing started. I remember going to watch him as a 9th grader over at Marian and meeting the Whitfields (Jackson’s foster family) and all of them. I remember walking out going, ‘he’s just kind of an athlete playing basketball.’ The jump he made between 10th and 11th grade was amazing to me with feel for the game and the stroke — all because he worked at it.”

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