Nov. 27, 2015
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
– Tadric Jackson is a smart kid.
His spot on last year’s ACC Academic Honor Roll proves that.
The 6-2 sharpshooter from Tifton, Ga., certainly understands that sometimes less is more. In his case, that means carrying 20 fewer pounds than he did last season as a freshman, having dropped his weight from just over 220 pounds to around 200 through Georgia Tech’s off-season conditioning program.
This lighter, more fit Jackson is more relaxed and more effective as his sophomore season begins (he was shooting 36.0 percent, 33.0 percent from three heading into Friday’s game against No. 8 Villanova at Barclays Center) and is showing signs of recapturing the form of the player, who led Tift County High School to 101 wins and four regional championships over four years, earning all-class Player of the Year as a senior while leading the Blue Devils to the 6A State Championship.
Tadric recently took time to talk to The Good Word — prior to the team leaving for Brooklyn for this week’s NIT Preseason Tip-Off — about reinventing his game last season, reshaping his body this offseason, and rekindling his love of the game over the summer courtesy of newcomer, grad student Adam Smith.
THE GOOD WORD: What are your thoughts on the team’s fast start, including finding a way to win the close game against Tennessee?
Tadric Jackson: “It was something that we were expecting. We’re not surprised by the wins. We played hard, played as a team, listened to Coach [Gregory], we got prepped up for those games real well. I’m not knocking the team that we had last year but the team we have this year, we’re finding reasons to win, not excuses. We’re digging a little deeper this year. [Against Tennessee] we were down by nine but we found a way to get it done, to come back. One basket at a time. We focused, dialed in, got kills — stop the ball, get three stops, that’s a kill — so we were consistent with that and we just found a way to get a win.”
TGW: What was your biggest takeaway from the team’s offseason conditioning program?
JACKSON: “For one I feel lighter. I feel comfortable. It was tough. I was at 222 and now I’m at 200. It’s a big difference conditioning-wise. They were real strict on it. I did every bit of conditioning this summer, the lifting, the running, the extra running, the extra conditioning on top of that. It helped a lot with me. At the time I kind of complained about it a little bit but at the end of the day it made me better.
“It really doesn’t affect my shot. It affects me conditioning-wise. I can shoot better when I’m tired now, instead of when I’m tired, having extra weight on me that I’m not supposed to have. For my shot, I’ve got to use my legs. So now I’m lighter. I can use my legs and I’m more in condition, more in shape. So I can shoot the ball better than I could last year.”
TGW: How did you go about reinventing yourself offensively last year and handling times when your outside shot wasn’t falling?
JACKSON: “The percentages didn’t get to me. That’s the past. You can’t do anything about the past. But as that time was going, as a shooter, you just have to keep shooting, get in the gym, get extra shots in, keep shooting, keep shooting, keep believing because everybody else believed in me. So the shot is not going to be the problem.”
TGW: You worked a lot with Adam Smith over the summer. What did you learn from him?
JACKSON: He’s just in the gym shooting. Last year I wondered why he shot so well. It’s because he’s always in here. Always. AL-WAYS in the gym. He’s kept me in the gym sometimes. He’d call me up ask me if I wanted to get some shots up. It maybe would just be free throws. It maybe would just be threes. It didn’t matter. As long as he was in the gym shooting.”
TGW: Did he make you realize how much YOU loved the game?
JACKSON: “He did! I was like, ‘I can shoot the ball a little bit but I think I can shoot the ball better,’ so I started joining him in the gym. It’s just like, if I can shoot like him we’re going to be trouble this season. He is fun to be around because he takes his game really seriously. If you love basketball that much you’ve got to stay in the gym. If you want to get better, if you want to make it to the next level you’ve just got to stay in the gym.”
TGW: You earned Academic Honor Roll last year. How important is it for you to excel in the classroom as well as on the court?
JACKSON: “I had a good year academics-wise. So when you handle it well like that you’re stress-free on the academic side. Georgia Tech is a hard school so you really have to stress your work. When you’re doing well and you’re maintaining your grades, on the academic side you can relax and feel free and you can put all your focus on the basketball side. I got a good start. I’m worried about my academics but it’s not like, ‘I’ve got to get it. I’ve got to get it.’ I’m doing well this year. I just have to maintain my grades. I can worry about basketball. Now instead of worrying about basketball a little less and school more I’m worrying about academics less and basketball more.”