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Local siblings share big dreams on the court

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By Sean Arnold

Sean Arnold

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Staff writer

She’s a budding prep star, one of the standouts among the county’s impressive class of sophomores.

He’s a former county star, having twice led Chiefland in scoring, and having played a key role in its final four run in 2014, now on the verge of starting the next phase of his hoops career.

Her older brother’s former team, a team she once rooted for, is now her neighboring rival.

He now roots for Cedar Key, at least when it comes to his sister’s Lady Sharks.

Patrick and Jasmin Jackson are a pair of siblings who are forging their own unique paths, but coming from a family of ballplayers means sibling bonds and hoops are invariably linked.

And they both share an ultimate goal – to play professional basketball.

“Everyone in my family has played – my parents and all my siblings,” says Jasmin Jackson, the leading scorer and a sophomore captain for the Sharks. “My brother’s always played, and I was at all his games.

“I learned a lot from watching him, so my parents would come to my games and say, ‘You get that from your brother, don’t you?’ I’d say, ‘No... maybe.’”

Jackson is in her third year as a varsity starter at Cedar Key, where, at point guard, she’s averaging 15.4 points and six boards a night. Her Sharks are enjoying their best season in recent memory, as they’ve beaten three different district opponents and notched four district wins for the No. 5 seed in next week’s district tournament in Trenton.

Jackson’s boasted back-to-back double-doubles in Cedar Key’s most recent couple of games.

“I just like how hard she works at learning the game,” CKS coach David Tomlin says. “Right now, she’s really working on the balance between when’s the right time to shoot and when’s the right time to penetrate and either take her inside shot or pass. That’s a really hard job, and she’s just a tenth grader.

“She’s not selfish at all,” Tomlin added. “In fact, there are times in the huddle I’ll say to her, ‘Jasmin, you’ve got to be selfish right now for the next five minutes.’

“She’s truly happy on the basketball court. She loves playing ball and she works hard in the classroom, and I love that.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Jackson, who graduated from Chiefland last spring, has secured a basketball scholarship at Webber International University, located near Winter Haven, right in the middle of the state. He considered several offers, including from schools in Virginia and North Carolina, but wanted to stay in Florida.

“I heard about Webber, and it was closer, so I went to try out for them,” says Jackson, who joins the team in the fall. “I visited and it was nice. It’s small. It felt more like a family there.

“They offered me a spot and I took it.”

Jackson wants to study business and sports management. He’s been taking courses locally in order to get his credits in order for WIU, which, as a private business school, has different requirements than public universities.

“We can’t wait for him to get to Webber,” says Jackson’s mother Cynthia, who is a licensed event planner in Cedar Key. “The campus actually looks like Cedar Key, so it felt like home.

“Our goal is to get the last three out of the house and into college, and then we’ll be done,” she added. “So we got two more to go.”

Both Cynthia and the siblings’ father, Patrick Jackson, played ball, but Jackson gives the credit for their success to the kids themselves.

“They’re a big influence on each other,” said Mr. Jackson, who works in the clamming industry and in landscaping. “I’m proud of them for whatever they do. We’re two happy parents.”

Jackson got his start at CKS, but switched to Chiefland just in time for the final four run. The Indians’ up-tempo style was a good fit for him, and he moved from point guard to shooting guard and developed into a more well-rounded player. He says he’s since worked a lot on his strength and conditioning and his jumper.

Before leading the team in scoring his junior and senior years, Jackson was second on the team in total points as a sophomore despite coming off the bench during the final four season.

“He’s a slasher,” CMHS coach Adam Boyd says. “He works on his game alone. and he worked with me a lot and developed a better jump shot over the course of time. He’s a really good kid.”

“He’s really good at his ball handling, so I try to learn from that,” Jasmin Jackson says of her brother. “I try and compete with his skills, because I have such high expectations, since he is my brother.”

The older brother says he’s proud of how his sister’s game has matured at the point.

“The last couple years, she’s gotten a lot better,” he said. “I guess she got influenced by watching her older brothers play.”

The siblings say they’ve both been heavily influenced by their older brother Cawan Bryant, who played in Alachua County and currently referees games. Their younger brother, Jyri, is following in the family’s footsteps as a sixth grader on the Cedar Key middle school squad. They also have a sister who played at Newberry.

Patrick Jackson, who was named to an all-area team in high school, has regularly attended a camp put on by former UF standout and Houston Rockets forward Corey Brewer. The feedback he’s received from NBA players like Brewer has been encouraging, as they’ve noted his potential to reach the NBA.

Jackson’s basketball heroes are household names like Michael Jordan, Allen “AI” Iverson and Kobe Bryant. But he has special admiration for 5-foot-9 Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, “because he’s small, and I’m only about 6-feet tall,” Jackson said.

“Patrick has been saying since he was 3 that he’s going to go pro,” Mrs. Jackson said.

Jasmin Jackson is already receiving letters of interest from colleges, both for athletics and academics. The sophomore team captain has always wanted to play in the WNBA, particularly for the L.A. Sparks.

Her favorite player is retired three-time MVP Lisa Leslie, and she pays attention to players like Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore and Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner.

“I always try to learn from them,” Jackson said. “I see them make mistakes as players, so it keeps me grounded when I make mistakes.

“I could see myself in one of those uniforms,” she added with a smile. “I would love that.”