By Joe Henricksen
With Division I schools recruiting him and offering, Riverside-Brookfield's Ryan Jackson decided to do what was best for him -- commit to local Division II school Lewis University and head coach Scott Trost.
Jackson, a strong 6-1 combo guard, committed to Lewis Monday night after visiting South Dakota State, North Dakota and Army in recent weeks. Chicago State and Utah Valley State also offered Jackson, who just returned from an official visit to North Dakota this past weekend.
The opportunity to play close to home, his relationship with the Lewis coaching staff and being able to study aviation at Lewis played a big part in looking past the Division I offers.
"Lewis was just the perfect fit for me," said Jackson. "They have want I want to major in, which is aviation, and it was the place I felt most comfortable. Plus, my mom and dad have been so supportive of me for so long. I didn't want my parents to have to travel so far to see me play ball."
In the never-ending talk and hype of "recruiting steals," Lewis actually did land a legitimate recruiting steal. There certainly wasn't a school that recruited Jackson more heavily than Lewis and Trost, who has been following his future guard throughout the spring and summer.
"I really get along with the players there and have built a great relationship with coach Trost and the staff," Jackson added. "Hopefully, with hard work, I can be an impact player there."
Jackson had a terrific year as a junior playing off the ball, with current Brown point guard Sean McGonagill running the show for R-B last winter. He averaged 16 points a game, along with a team-leading 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Plus, Jackson has proven to be a winner, with his R-B teams that he's played on going 69-9 overall in his career (23-0 as a freshman on the sophomore team; 24-3 as a sophomore on varsity; 22-6 last season with conference titles each year and a regional championship last season). In last year's sectional loss to Marshall, Jackson scored a game-high 31 points.
Now Jackson should flourish this upcoming season with the ball in his hands and a much-improved perimeter jumper. After a strong spring and summer on the AAU circuit with Old Gold, Jackson opened the eyes of low-Division I schools. Nevertheless, Jackson has been one of the more overlooked players in the Chicago area, constantly producing for both his high school team and with his Old Gold club team. He brings a winning attitude, intangibles and is a high character student-athlete.