Sun Devil Newcomer: Meet Marreon Jackson
(Story by Michael Chirichillo. Michael is a senior working for Sun Devil Athletics in the Public Relations Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is scheduled to graduate in December 2021.)
Sun Devil men's basketball has a lineup of various players for the 2021-2022 season with a mixture of returning and incoming players.
One newcomer who is perhaps the most determined to leave his mark is fifth-year senior Marreon Jackson. Jackson is an Ohio native who began his collegiate basketball career at Toledo University. With his recent transfer into the Pac-12 Conference and ASU, Jackson's life-long basketball dreams are becoming a reality.
"Basketball has always been a part of my life, ever since I started really playing seriously in the fifth grade," said Jackson.
Throughout his childhood, Jackson was an avid football fan but still had love for basketball. Luckily, his father noticed the special talents his son had on the court and encouraged him to focus on basketball.
"My dad is easily my biggest influence," said Jackson. "Besides just being a basketball influence, his mindset and the way he goes about handling adversity I've always looked up to."
With his father's support and guidance, Jackson began to receive collegiate basketball offers in high school. He received his first scholarship offer from Cleveland State University and quickly realized how far his talent could take him.
"I remember getting the first offer and realizing that maybe I can really do this," said Jackson.
More offers began to flood the residence of Jackson as he was quickly becoming a coveted high school prospect in the Ohio region. He meticulously eliminated all of his offers until he was down to a selection of four universities. Ultimately, Toledo would win the recruitment battle and he would begin his collegiate career in his home state.
"It just felt like home really," Jackson said. "I just felt like here [Toledo] I could get in and play right away, and who wouldn't want to go right in as a freshman?"
Jackson definitely made an impact on the Toledo basketball program and the Midwestern Athletic Conference. He accrued historical statistics in his final year playing for Toledo, which included an average of 18.1 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and 5.9 assists per game. These stats put Jackson in elite company, as only former-Ohio State Buckeye Evan Turner and current-Cleveland Cavalier Denzel Valentine have equaled these statistics in a single collegiate season. This stat-line also earned Jackson the 2020-2021 MAC Player of the Year.
With his most successful season in the books, Jackson was gaining national recognition as one of the most effective scorers in college basketball. In order to capitalize on his historical season, he realized the need to transfer to a more prominent school.
"Whether you're really good or not, it's hard to get coverage in the smaller conference," said Jackson. "We didn't really get that platform for exposure that I wanted for my best years."
Jackson decided to enter the transfer portal and ultimately decided to select Arizona State University as his new school. Sun Devil Basketball has the ability to give Jackson the exposure he desires and deserves to help launch his career. Now being in the Pac-12, Jackson is prepared to prove that he can be a star in a power five conference.
"I love the style of play in the Pac-12 and how fast paced the play is," said Jackson.
Jackson, an energetic scoring guard, should see ample success in this system and this heavily contributed to his decision to play for ASU. Additionally, coach Bobby Hurley also had a major influence on Jackson's decision to come to the Valley.
"Coach [Hurley] really lets his guards play and be the key to the team," said Jackson. "He critiques me on a couple of things, but being under a guy you know who has played in the NBA and considered one of the best college point guards, who wouldn't want to play under him?"
Jackson has found his ideal fit as a Sun Devil, and he is determined to showcase what he and his team can do as they focus on a successful campaign with Sun Devil Basketball. This season, the players will attempt to win their first Pac-12 Men's Basketball Championship, as well as make another appearance in the elusive NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Jackson is hyper-determined to lead his team for his final chance to win the NCAA tournament.
"Every kid that's played basketball, dreams of playing in the NCAA tournament," said Jackson. "It will be a dream come true and I was almost there three times in my college career."
He has no plans to pump the brakes on his basketball career after his time at Arizona State, as he still hopes to make his dreams of playing professional basketball a reality. With Jackson's current career progression - and the anticipated success of himself and the team - his NBA aspirations just may be achieved.
"Playing in the NBA has always been the main goal, so I'm hoping my success and our success as a team will help people see something and take a chance on me," said Jackson. "I also want to take this team as far as we can go, and go farther than any team here in history, and I would love for that to be what they remember me for the only year I am here."