Thunder pick Jackson promises to work hard
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)
After being introduced as the newest member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, first-round draft pick Reggie Jackson made only one promise about what people should expect from him.
''I don't have any predictions on the court for what's going to happen with my career, but I can guarantee you I'll definitely give 100 percent every day in practice,'' Jackson said at a news conference Saturday at a Boys and Girls Club to announce his arrival.
''It's what I've done my whole life since being up at 5 a.m. in high school shooting to going back to the gym from about 11 to 1 at night. It's just what I love to do. Definitely, I just want to get better every day and help the team get better.''
Jackson called himself ''very inconsistent'' with his shot as a freshman and sophomore point guard at Boston College, but he had a breakthrough junior season after Steve Donahue was hired as the Eagles' head coach. He credits Donahue with providing him the mechanical adjustments that turned him into the No. 24 pick in Thursday night's draft. He's got a better release point, a quicker shot and the vision to find the rim.
Jackson went from making 43 percent of his shots to just over half, and from missing seven out of 10 3-pointers to a 42 percent success rate.
''The first two years at Boston College, I shot fadeaways, I'd shoot a leaner. I'd shoot leaning to the left, to the right. You really never knew what you were going to get from Reggie Jackson on a jump shot, but you knew you were going to get effort,'' he said.
''(I) actually combined that effort with great mechanics and great understanding of the game.''
The improvement made Jackson an all-ACC first team selection and raised his scoring average to 18.2 points. He says he's confident shooting even with a hand in his face.
''We really feel like his best basketball is well in front of him. He understands that there's a lot of work that has to take place on his end and we also understand that we have to put him in positions to be successful throughout his development as a player,'' general manager Sam Presti said.
''We're fortunate in that we're going to be able to bring him along at a steady pace. He'll have to earn his opportunities.''
The Thunder already have their backcourt set with starters Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha, plus backups Eric Maynor and James Harden under contract for next season. They even have two extra backup point guards, Royal Ivey and Nate Robinson, who rarely got to play last season. They're expected to extend a qualifying offer to Daequan Cook this week to make him a restricted free agent.
''I'm as competitive as the next guy. I just want to be the best at what I do,'' Jackson said. ''I was fortunate to have the coaches that I did in college, and they helped me through my progression. Rather than just being an athlete, I learned the game. ... I'm looking to keep progressing at the next level.''
Jackson comes from an Air Force family and the move to Oklahoma City is the latest in a lifetime filled with them. He was born in Italy and lived in England, Florida, North Dakota and Georgia before his family settled in Colorado Springs, Colo., when he was in sixth grade. Then it was back across the country for college.
None of his teammates were around for the introduction, but he hopes to fit in quickly with Oklahoma City's young core. He's 21, the same age as Harden and Thunder starter Serge Ibaka and a year younger than All-Stars Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
''We're all going to be young, so everybody's going to be around each and I feel getting the team chemistry, that's going to be great,'' Jackson said. ''It's shown to work over the years. The Oklahoma City Thunder was in the Western Conference finals and I know they're looking to go further and eventually bring a title to this city.''
Among Jackson's first actions with the Thunder were cutting the ribbon to open a new study lounge and game room at the Boys and Girls Club, then blocking some shots by participants at a summer basketball camp who thought they could score on him.
He said he had to get a tailor-made green dress shirt for his introduction - one of the drawbacks of having a 7-foot wingspan despite standing 6-foot-3.
''I guess I'm kind of a freak,'' he said.
Jackson said he has only a few classes left to finish up his communications degree at Boston College, and he plans to complete it when he can, perhaps to have a backup plan as a sports analyst if the NBA doesn't pan out.
That's far from the top of his mind, though, after the thrill of getting his name called in the draft just days ago.
''It's a dream for anybody,'' Jackson said. ''But this isn't where my dream stops, hopefully.''