It came down to Notre Dame and Illinois for class of 2013 point guard Demetrius Jackson, a local product that grew up and developed his game in the shadow of the Golden Dome. And on Thursday the four-star prospect remained true to his roots, verbally committing to the Fighting Irish.
Jackson (middle) with the Whitfield family and his brother, Jeff (right)
"It was difficult just trying to distinguish the difference between the two programs," Jackson admitted at a press conference in Mishawaka, Ind. "They both had great opportunities for me and great things to offer. I feel like Notre Dame had kind of like the best of both worlds. I know that Notre Dame will prepare me for life after college. I know there’s more to life than just basketball."
According to 247Sports, Jackson, who has long been Notre Dame’s primary target at a position of need, ranks 57th 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. 30 overall in the 2013 class.
The Irish staff, primarily assistant Anthony Solomon, didn’t let the playmaker slip away and must have done a good job closing the deal last weekend when Jackson made an official visit. Jackson’s only other official visit was to Illinois, where he might have seen the court more often as a freshman next season, at the end of August.
"I had to sleep on it," Jackson said. "It was kind of up and down for me. I had such a great relationship with both coaching staffs; I knew it would be difficult decision. This morning I felt like Notre Dame was the best for me. ... [Brey] was very excited, gave me a hug … funny guy. I love hanging out with Coach Brey."
Jackson, who will study under current junior PG Eric Atkins for a year, joins forwards Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem — both of whom are top-100 prospects per the 247Sports Composite — in Notre Dame’s incoming class.
Jackson led Mishawaka Marian High to its first sectional title since 1969, the program’s first-ever regional crown and a spot in the Class 3A state semifinals as a junior, when 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.
With Notre Dame's decision to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, which might take place as early as next season, Jackson liked the idea of squaring off against a collection of powerhouse programs in what will arguably be the most talented conference in the country.
"I feel like that will be great," he said. "I can’t wait to play at Notre Dame and compete for championships."
Jackson has a college-ready frame, an ability to score from anywhere on the floor, can take a game over, but also know when it's time to focus on facilitating scoring for his teammates. What his MBA Select AAU coach Rod Creech said stands out the most is Jackson's leadership ability.
"I don't even have to think about that one," Creech said of what area Jackson has improved on the most. "The way that he communicates with his teammates now, the way that he communicates with his coaches, the mentorship he provides for the younger players in our program and his younger players in his [Marian] program; when you watch all that stuff you see a great young man that's come from a seventh grade basketball player liking the game to a complete person that's ready to tackle the world, win national titles and bring some big things to South Bend, Indiana."
Check back at BlueandGold.com Friday for more on Jackson's announcement.