Freddie Jackson (I Love Defense Just As Much As I Love Offense)

Freddie Jackson is a 24 year old 193cm guard from Wilmington, North Carolina with one season of professional basketball under his belt as he played with AS Soleuvre (Luxembourg-Total League) and  BZD Ikh-Aravtuud Bulls (Mongolia-Superliga) last season. He started his basketball career in 2011 with NC-Wilmington (NCAA) where he played until 2015 playing a total of 121 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games averaging 13.3ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.1apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 33.1%, FT: 63.6%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

 

Freddie thanks for talking to German Hoops. What makes your game special in your opinion? You can fill up the stat sheet, but what would you say is a hidden strength in your game that gets overlooked time after time?

 I’m Freddie Jackson from Wilmington NC. I’m a typical big guard who is supposed to do everything on the court. My playing style is very versatile, I can score on all 3 levels effectively. I’m a two way player with good size at 6’4 and also well conditioned. I really can fill up the stat sheet, but it is also important for me to get my teammates involved. I think most coaches that I have played for or against in the past will say that I’m a great leader who leads by example and is vocal. What some teams don’t have on their scouting sheet is that I can guard positions 1 through 3. I take pride in being a great defender.

You were born in Wilmington North Carolina, went to high school in Wilmington then proceeded to play in the NCAA D1 for the UNC Wilmington. Having spent your entire life in one town, why did you decide to pursue a professional career in overseas basketball? How did head coach Buzz Peterson groom and shape your game to the professional ranks? Describe your first impressions coming to Europe.

I spent the majority of my life in Wilmington playing basketball. I travelled all over the US playing also. I always wanted to play professionally. Basketball is my passion. I’m looking forward to playing in Europe again, this will be a fun challenge to play in another country. Coach Buzz did a great job preparing me for overseas. He was a great mentor and really helped me get ready for pro basketball. Many other players from my school are playing abroad so our coach truly knows what he is doing. My first impression in Europe was different but good. Basketball was still the same. The game is what connects us all. My first experience was great and I’ll never forget it.

You started the season at AS Soleuvre (Luxembourg-Total League) and didn´t last through preseason. How disappointing was your first European adventure and why couldn´t you stay there?

My first team in Luxembourg did not work out for two different reasons. One being I had an ankle injury towards the end of training camp and the other being that the team decided to bring in a small forward instead who was a couple inches taller at 6’6. Sure I was disappointed. But it didn’t discourage me from further pursuing my dream.

You finished the 2016 season in Mongolia, a country we don’t know much about in terms of basketball. Please give as a first hand report about the league, the players and the overall situation. In a retrospective, do you think it would have been possible finding another team in Europe instead, given how well your game is suited especially for teams in a country like Germany?

Mongolia was a small country in terms of basketball, unrecognized by most because of their choice of how to run their own league. They make their own game rules. Games sometimes would simply get cancelled for no apparent reason 30 minutes before the tip-off. This was the only downfall of the league, the competition most places was good, many guys from power 6 conferences played there along with me. There was even some former pros who loved their league and are still active there. For me personally, I really think I could have found a better option than Mongolia, but my agent at the time was trying to place me anywhere, which turned out to be a mistake.

After a very strong senior season at NC-Wilmington (NCAA) where you played 32 games averaging 13.3ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.1apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 33.1%, FT: 63.6%, you went into your professional season with high expectations. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that your rookie season would be such a roller coaster ride?

 After such a strong senior season I was hoping to possibly workout for some NBA teams but later decided to pursue overseas basketball. Never thought my career would get off to such a shaky start. But I understand that how you start is not how you finish. I just want to play and show everyone what I’m capable of doing. I have abilities that I want to put to good use on a team in Europe.

Graduating college in 2015 as a highly decorated senior, you more or less fell under the radar after returning home from Mongolia. You are now looking to come back to Europe and prove that you can play here on a high level. Please let a possible soon-to-be coach know what it is that you think you can contribute to the team that picks you up.

The two main things a coach needs to know are that I’m the kind of player that will do anything to help a team win. I spend most of my free time in the gym. Off the court, I am an easy going person who mostly just stays home. I’ve never really been a party guy or somebody who would get in trouble. I’m very team orientated people friendly.

How has the transfer market been for you this summer? Do you feel that your unfortunate rookie season has had an effect in interest from teams? What did you learn from your experience in Mongolia that will help you make the right decisions in the future?

The transfer market has been hard so far because of my playing history. I think most teams look at Mongolia and it affects my chances. There are no stats available online, all I have is screenshots of the scouting sheets that were handed to me. I am hoping teams will look at my senior year college and realize that this is the player they’d be getting, except for the fact that now I have further matured and learned more about overseas basketball.

Please describe your typical day during off-season and the things you do to stay in shape and ready for your next overseas assignment. North Carolina has a lot to offer when it comes to Pro Ams and high level tournaments. Did you participate in anything so far this summer?

My day normally starts around 7:30 when I wake for breakfast. After breakfast I head to the gym for my first of two basketball workouts which last for about 1 hour each. They usually are filled with many high level quick passing drills. After the first workout is finished, I follow up with a 30 minutes weight sesson which includes stretching and lifting weights. Normally I eat a big lunch followed by some rest. I’m finish my day with shooting toward the late afternoon at around 6.

People say there is a special breed of the „North Carolina Guard“ and would usually describe these guards as tough, hard-nosed and pesky on defense. Having made the CAA All-Defensive team, would you say this overall description fits you? Who won a one on one in practice, you or Addison Spruill?

I think this overall description fits me perfectly. I love defense just as much as I love offense. Both are very important to becoming a complete player, which I like to think I am . Playing basketball in North Carolina growing up is very hard. It’s plenty competition and plenty people to measure up to in every age group, from AAU all the way into the pros. I was very successful in high school making the ESPN top 100 shooting guards of my class in 2011 with an overall rating of 85 and 3 stars out of 5. Me and Addison Spruill are good friends. I’ve been playing against him since high school. When we play one on one games it would be a split between us two, a mutual respect back and forth kind of match up. I feel like we are similar when it comes to our offensive skills, but I will go ahead and say I consider myself a slightly better defender.

Thanks Freddie for the chat.

 

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