KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Donovan Jackson was having fun again.
During Iowa State men’s basketball’s shoot around in Kansas City, Jackson was draining shot after shot, and he couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face. He was yelling, letting everybody know that, “I can’t miss.”
And he couldn’t.
At one point, he made at least 10 in a row – that’s a very conservative number, too.
Coach Steve Prohm obviously hopes Jackson’s hot shooting transfers to Wednesday night at 8 p.m. when Iowa State (13-17, 4-14 Big 12) plays Texas (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. But more than anything, Prohm is happy to see Jackson happy.
“Yeah, I think he’s back from the standpoint of being regular Donovan,” Prohm said.
“I’ve checked on him every other day to see how he’s doing. It was good to see that out there, it was good to see him make a bunch of shots and the second thing is, it was good to see him have fun.”
Jackson has fond memories of the Sprint Center. He helped Iowa State win its third Big 12 Tournament title in four years.
“When he walks in this arena, it’s a great moment for him,” Prohm said. “He was a part of history here. He should feel good.”
This season has been tough for Iowa State. The Cyclones are young, inexperienced and have dealt with their fair share of injuries.
But Jackson believes that won’t impact how Iowa State plays in Kansas City.
“I think we’re going to come out with a lot of intensity because our practices have been really good lately, so we just need to translate that to the game,” Jackson said.
If Iowa State does manage to go on a little run, it could set things up for the future. A future that has a lot of promise with the dynamic freshman duo of Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard.
“My big thing is, I want to set these guys up for next year and have them understand what it takes to actually win in the Big 12 because it takes a lot,” Jackson said. “It takes a lot of focus and dedication. This is the perfect stage to try and get some wins and set it straight.”
This is Jackson’s last collegiate season, and as a competitor, it’d be easy for him to say he wants to win now and get frustrated by the lack of success and tune the rest out. But he hasn’t done that.
He’s been a leader.
“It’s bigger than me,” Jackson said. “Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long, they paved the way for me. They taught me all the ins and outs and stuff like that. My job right now, I’m a senior, is to pass everything I know down to these guys.”
Lard is ready to take on that challenge.
“Most definitely,” Lard said. “This could be a big stepping stone if we could make a little run in this tournament. It’ll definitely give us something to look forward to for next year.”