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The Bench Warmer: Grandma’s Boy

February 13, 2008 | By Daniel Olson | comment on this post
Stefon Jackson is on fire for UTEP.
Stefon Jackson has had to overcome a lot to get where he is. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

There are plenty of success stories of players in college basketball. Many have gone through trials and tribulations that most of us could not endure. UTEP guard Stefon Jackson is no different. Jackson constantly tells everyone how much he loves his grandma, and with help from UTEP administrators, he even has a web site called So why has his grandmother been such a rock for him during his college career? Jackson not only had to endure a broken jaw, suffered at the hands of his own teammate, who punched him during practice, but the murder of his brother and the death of his father.

Jackson almost quit basketball, but with encouragement from his family, specifically his grandmother, he continued on with the sport he loved despite his struggles.

Based on the way Jackson has played this year, it is probably a good thing he decided to continue. The 6’5″, 175-pound guard from Philadelphia has had a phenomenal year for UTEP, averaging 23.8 points per game (good for fourth in the nation) as well as pulling down 5.3 boards per contest. His efforts have helped UTEP to a surprising 14-8 record, giving the school hopes of making the NCAA tournament.

The junior guard has scored double figures in every game this season minus one against Texas Tech. He has also scored 30+ points in three contests this season. While he only shoots a modest 33 per cent from three-point range, his inside game and ability to rebound despite a slender frame gives him a great shot at the NBA. As of right now, Jackson has publicly said he would like to stay in college for his senior season.

Look for Jackson’s draft status to be contingent on how he performs his senior season, but if his current season is any indication, he will have no problem being a late first round to early second round draft pick.

Team of the Week

It was only a matter of time until Louisville began performing the way everyone expected. Well, getting its star players healthy also helped as the team has won its last three contests, with two of the wins being over ranked teams Marquette and Georgetown. A healthy David Padgett has clearly contributed to the teams’ success, as they went only 7-3 while he was injured.

The Cardinals are paced by junior forward Terrence Williams, who is averaging 11 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Talk about your do it all player. And who didn’t love Rick Pitino’s white suit for the school white out game versus Georgetown?

Who’s Hot

  • Ryan Anderson, F, Cal: The sophomore forward is dominating the toughest conference in the land right now, the Pac-10. Anderson is currently scoring 22 points per contest while pulling down 9.9 rebounds, which equates to essentially a double-double every contest. He might be the best kept secret on the West Coast, and look for him to continue to make an impact as his Cal Golden Bears fight to make the NCAA tournament. It is still too early to tell if he might test the pro waters, but if he does he could be something special with his ability to stretch the defense while also pulling down boards on the defensive end.
  • Brian Butch, C, Wisconsin: Butch does not put up gaudy numbers, but he is consistent and has helped his Badgers to a 19-4 record. He does the little things and is the senior leader on the floor for Wisconsin. Look for Butch, who is averaging 12.7 points and seven boards per contest for Wisconsin, to be a late second round draft pick, and an effective player off the bench in the NBA.

Who’s Not

  • D.J. Augustin, G, Texas: Augustin is a sure thing first round pick whenever he decides to go pro. But as of late, his numbers have not helped his draft stock. The 6’0″ sophomore guard did nothing to help his Longhorns upset Kansas, as he went 1-for-13 from the field and did not score until there was 5:30 left in the contest. In his last five games, Augustin has shot 19-for-74 from the field. If he plans to go pro after this season and wants his stock to soar, he will need to improve his field goal percentage.
  • Longar Longar, C, Oklahoma: The senior centre was averaging 13.2 points per contest while pulling down 5.9 boards before he broke his leg against Colorado. Now his senior season is likely finished, as well as the Sooners’ chances at the NCAA tournament.

Game of the Week

Wisconsin vs. Indiana, 7 p.m. EST, Wednesday, February 13

The battle between two of the top three teams in the Big Ten will showcase NBA prospects from Indiana in D.J. White and Eric Gordon against Wisconsin’s stars Trevon Hughes and Butch. Whichever team wins this contest stays in the hunt for the Big Ten championship while the other team’s hopes might be shattered.

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