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Pistons guard Reggie Jackson reads to students at Marquette Elementary-Middle School after opening a renovated literacy lounge. Nolan Bianchi, The Detroit News

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Grosse Pointe – Reggie Jackson is getting close to stepping back on a basketball court. In the meantime, he’s getting close to his community.

The Pistons guard – who missed 37 games last season due to a Grade 3 sprain in his right ankle – was on hand Wednesday representing his Determined to Assist Foundation for the grand opening of a renovated literacy lounge at Marquette Elementary-Middle School. The upgrades, done in partnership with Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan, included new books, furniture, and wall graphics with inspirational quotes.

It is the seventh initiative of the sort done by Jackson and his foundation, which he said is an attempt to improve resources that were a “big building block” for his own life growing up.

“Reading allowed me to dream big, dream more vivid, which made my dream more achievable,” Jackson said before reading “Curious George at the Aquarium” aloud to a handful of students.

Jackson said afterward he’s spent most of the offseason working on getting his mobility back. Since the rehab process hasn’t allowed him to work on-court with his team, he’s had to find new ways to improve his game.

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“My first five seasons in the league was always, get on the court, grind, grind, grind, and find a way to get better,” he said. “I’ve had to find ways to get better mentally watching the game, rather than actually touch a ball and get on the court.”

 For Jackson, who’s entering his fifth season with Detroit, the upcoming campaign under new head coach Dwane Casey also proposes a new set of challenges outside of overcoming an injury.

“Playing in this system, this new type of flow is going to take us some time to adjust,” Jackson said. “But I think it’s something that, as it shows promise for fans that the pieces can work well within what coach does, it’s going to be about getting acclimated, getting trust.”

Jackson noted the amount of capable wings on Detroit’s roster will certainly help the transition to Casey’s offensive scheme, which is centered around rapid ball movement and outside shooting.

“We have depth all across the board,” said Jackson, who averaged 14.6 points and 5.3 assists in 45 games last season. “That’s the beauty of it.”

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Even though he’s spent limited time working with Casey, the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year, Jackson said the regime change has brought about a breath of fresh air within the organization. 

“I haven’t been around here much, haven’t been around the team much,” Jackson said, “but just being around him so far, it’s just his aura, and I think that’s been great for us.”

Jackson admitted that spending another offseason rehabbing an injury – he suffered tendonitis in his left knee during training camp in 2016 that sidelined him for 20 games – has been frustrating, but that he’ll be “more prepared” entering this season.

“It’s been crappy the last few years,” he said. “Really gearing up for something special, and then sitting down, trying to come back, and then not knowing day-to-day just how you feel.”

That hasn’t dampened his spirits on the upcoming season, however.

“I love to be on the court,” Jackson said. “I’m just excited to be back out here and play basketball, reading to get back training with the team and be ready before the season is started.”

 

 

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