Jackson earning major offers after one year of football
Alaric "A.J." Jackson and Detroit Renaissance will try to avenge a regular-season 25-point loss to Detroit Mumford when the teams open up district play with a Class A game Monday at 5 p.m. at Renaissance.
It has been quite a junior season for the 6-foot-8, 290-pound Jackson, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds Saturday in a 43-41 win over Orchard Lake St. Mary's at Calihan Hall.
Jackson played his first year of organized football this past fall, impressing college coaches enough to already get scholarship offers from Nebraska, Illinois, Kentucky and Kansas.
"He's probably one of our better shooters, so I don't mind him taking threes," said Renaissance coach Vito Jordan of Jackson, who made three long-range shots against OLSM. "He's a big boy, a double-double machine, and he's going to rebound the ball."
Jordan said he talked to Jackson before his junior year and told him he was either going to run cross country or play football to prepare him for the basketball season.
"A.J. didn't want to play (football) and I literally hand-walked him out there and said, 'You have a choice: You're running cross country or playing football,'" Jordan said. "He's 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds but light on his feet. He was mad at me, but hopefully one day we can be watching him play for the Lions.
"Three weeks ago we played Cass Tech and Jim Harbaugh came to the game. He still wants to play basketball, but like I tell him, 'Have a good year in basketball next year, then put the helmet on.' This past weekend, he went up to Michigan State for a visit. I wouldn't be surprised if you see every school in the country offer a 6-8, 290-pound dude who has great feet and unbelievable upside."
Jackson, an offensive lineman for Renaissance, said he didn't go out for football before because his mother didn't want him to get hurt. He's happy he played, though, and says it made him tougher on the court.
"Since I was little I've always played basketball, but I played football for the first time this past year and already have eight offers," Jackson said. "I thought it would be good for basketball, making me tougher. I also feel I am stronger and more athletic."
Jackson is also getting looks from Bowling Green, Buffalo and Fairfield for basketball, but has yet to receive an offer for that sport.
"It's crazy that I've got all those (football) offers," he said. "I've just played one year and I'm not that good at it, but I just go out there play hard."