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#TGW: Coming Along

Feb. 14, 2015

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

– The age of Tadric Jackson has been perhaps a bit slower in coming than some might have predicted and it is not yet time to say the era has dawned, but his coach still believes.

Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory is not particularly fond of questions about his freshman shooting guard. He is, however, still fond of Tadric.

In scoring 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting and grabbing three rebounds in 18 minutes of Monday’s loss at Virginia Tech, Jackson offered the biggest sample size yet in ACC play of what may be to come. Perhaps he’ll string together more of the same Saturday afternoon against Florida State.

“He’s had a tremendous attitude,” the coach said. “He’s never dropped his head or sulked when he didn’t get the playing time. He’s made himself ready. I like what he’s done the last couple games, and we’re going to need that.”

The Seminoles (13-12, 5-7 ACC) will roll out quite a freshman guard in Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

He’s grown into the role of scoring leader for FSU since Aaron Thomas was ruled ineligible in December, putting up 13.4 points and 4.6 assists per game.

Jackson’s not likely to end up a point guard, at least not on a consistent basis, yet there remains hope that he can and will become as impactful for the Yellow Jackets (11-13, 2-10) as Rathan-Mayes is for the `Noles.

After quite the high school career, capped by his leading Tift County to the AAAAAA state title and being named the state’s top prep player in its biggest division, Jackson arrived on The Flats amid considerable anticipation.

That can be a problem. Expectations both internal and external are unavoidable in sport. Gregory can adjust his schedule based upon his up-close view of the processes of assimilation and integration that a student-athlete endures.

Fans and the media don’t have such an open window. Gregory would rather not talk about such things publicly lest any re-telling creep out into the ether of the internet and then be soaked up by the student-athlete.

“We’ve been looking at Tadric for six weeks,” Gregory said when asked most recently about Jackson’s progress.

It says here the Jackson Days will come. Players develop at different paces.

Look at Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas. In his first three seasons for the Orange, he averaged 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds, 5.1 and 4.6, and 5.8 and 5.1.

This season, he is among ACC leaders while averaging 18.0 and 9.3 in ranking among league leaders. Sometimes, it takes time. Jackson is trying to retro-fit his game and his pace.

A noted slasher in high school with a bit of a jumper, he has been over-reliant on the jumper for the Jackets. He’s shooting 26 percent, and 48.8 percent of his shot attempts have been 3-pointers. From there, he’s shooting 14.5 percent.

It’s a strange proposition if viewed through a binary prism to suggest that all of these numbers mean little with regard to what can be the real Jackson.

Yet when you’ve been around long enough, and seen enough, you know – and hope – that what you see is not always what you’re going to get.

The Jackson era may well be coming. Yet while many love prognosticating, timing is not predictable. To transition from being the man to being among several young men is for all different, a fluid notion.

“I like what he’s been doing in practice,” Gregory said of Jackson. “He comes every day, works hard, he’s trying to understand the intensity level that you have to play every possession with offensively and defensively at this level. The only way to really understand that is to do it every day in practice.”

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