When you first meet someone like Hurricane Tiger’s Jackson Last you quickly noticed you are with someone special. Maturity and class at such a young age is hard to come by. Thaw in a wicked jump shot and you know you’re on to something.
Playing multiple sports is noting new among competitive high school athletes. Competition is never limited to one season so when these athletes play, they do so continually and look for the edge with each opportunity.
The 6’3” junior counts himself rather fortunate to be able to play basketball for the Tigers as that is his first love, “ever since I can remember.” Jackson wastes no time after region play during the winter basketball season and jumps right into spring ball when he is balancing basketball and tennis. “I like that my tennis coaches work with me on my schedule” he says. “It really means a lot. Plus it helps to get the extra conditioning and footwork in during tennis when I’m not at basketball.”
When it comes to training for basketball, Jackson is methodical and understands how to force himself into game like situations even when it is just he all alone on the court. “After practice I will usually stay for 45min to 1.5hrs depending on the day to get in some extra work in. I will make sure that I break up my shooting with my conditioning. Some days I will work from the point position by attacking the basket, or a one-dribble pull, catch and shoot situations. Other days I may be on the wing and attacking from there.”
With that level of commitment you can appreciate his dedication to his craft, however Jackson takes it a step further. “I always like to incorporate free throws into everything that I do. I like to go hard and get breathing and sweating and then I will make ten free throws. Then I will switch to going to the hoop for 10-15min and then make ten free throws.” He explains, “I switch up the drills then mix in the free throws because I want to be ready during game situations. It’s not like I am going to be able to shoot from the line fresh and rested every time. I will be tired so I have to practice that way, I have to get used to what it would actually be like in a game.”
Being the youngest of five Jackson has had his older siblings to look to as examples in and out of competition. This drive to compete has certainly played a factor in his academic pursuits as well. “My family has always been pretty ambitious and my parents have helped to set a good standard for me academically,” says the junior. “They taught me how to work hard and that has helped me as I lean towards something in the medical field or for something to do with math. Academically I feel pretty self motivated which will make it easier when I finally decide what to do professionally.”
“I have always been into competition,” says Jackson about his love of sports. “I’ve always hated losing and so I’ve carried that with me into high school.”
When an athlete struggles in a game there are only a few things that can take place. They either crumble under the pressure, find a way to just deal with the challenge and ‘get through it’, or they can find the mental edge to overcome and conquer it. “I know I have put in time so I have just learned to trust myself. The time I put in will lead to good things. You learn how to adjust. You never want to change what is working so you keep that the same but if things are not going right or when your playing badly, you have to find a way to change things up so you can see the ball go in [the basket], and trust that all the hard work you put in will help you deal with and overcome the challenge.”
Music, ball handling and prayer are a part of Jackson’s pregame ritual. Not superstitious by any means. The young man knows he must stay warm and loose before the game so the ball handling fits in there and the music just helps his rhythm prior to tip-off. Jackson credits prayer though to his commitment to his LDS faith and recognition of the blessings he believes he has received through his life.
“I switch up the drills then mix in the free throws because I want to be ready during game situations.“
As a junior Jackson has a great deal of respects for his upperclassmen. Playing the point guard position comes with a level of leadership and trust among his fellow teammates. “I feel we have a pretty good relationship. They have a lot of trust in me that I will get us in the right sets and situations and I have trust in them that they will do the right thing. These are great guys and it’s really fun to be able to play and learn from them on the court. I watch what works for them and see what I can incorporate into my game so I can always be getting better.”
Hoping to capture every moment and playing each game and possession like it is his last, Jackson has really come to realize just how quickly the season goes by. “You have such a short season and I see our seniors now and how much they want to do something special before they graduate, it really makes you appreciate every moment.”
Getting things handed to you can lead to complacency and a lack of drive to push harder. It’s something that destroys and athlete and once those emotions begin to occur just about everything else follows suit. “I don’t want anything handed to me. I do all I can to put as much time in so that when I am on the court I know that we have earned the wins. Nothing is going to be handed to me in life so why start now?”
Jackson knows what his priorities are and is focused on finishing his high school basketball career strong as he prepares to serve and LDS mission for his faith. With the goal in mind of having his college paid for either through an athletic or academic scholarship Jackson is committed to putting in the necessary work to make that a reality holding fast to his philosophy of wanting nothing handed to him. We trust his efforts will be greatly rewarded. • HSSI