The 2010 Eagles haven’t been too successful...to this point. All fingers point to a lack of team leadership. With just one senior, the Eagles are looking for someone to step up.
Many figured it would be Rakim Sanders, who has started every game since his freshman year. Sanders went out with an injury early in the season, which resulted in him missing several games early on. As a result, he hasn’t been as good as anticipated. Other candidates included Biko Paris or Tyler Roche.
Both were named team captains back in September, but neither truly have the sense of leadership.
In the past, BC’s leaders were amongst the likes of Troy Bell, Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, and Tyrese Rice. All of these players share a common attribute, which was big plays in big games. They all could score, but so can a lot of basketball players.
They all had an emotional edge over the guy next to them, they all carried a sense of swagger and were cocky, they looked to the crowd during a big defensive stand, and lastly, they all had ice running through their veins.
If you take a look at BC’s roster this year, you can probably take two guys with most of those qualities, but there is just one guy with all of them. It should come as no surprise that Reggie Jackson is the leader of this team. He may only be a sophomore, but right now he’s playing like a senior all ACC leader.
After watching Jackson through seven ACC games, I’ve noticed five attributes that make him the next Big Man On Campus or BMOC at Boston College, putting him in with the names of Troy Bell, Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, and Tyrese Rice.
Ability No. 1 is his energy. Jackson has started several games this year, but he has since moved back to the bench as the team’s sixth man. Some question Al Skinner’s decision to put Jackson on the bench, but in the end Jackson gets his minutes. To this point Jackson has logged more minutes than anyone else on the team (654/ 31.1 avg.).
But why is his energy so important?
The fact that he comes off the bench is bad news for the other team. If the opponent is playing man, than chances are whoever was guarding 6'5", 230-pound Rakim Sanders, is now guarding Jackson. The defender probably already took some shots from the big and physical guard/ forward Rakim Sanders and now he has to try to keep up with the flashy Jackson.
What makes his energy so effective is that he can play both the one and two guard positions. Jackson is a spark plug, jumper, playmaker, scorer, and crowd riser. There is a definite buzz that runs through Conte when he enters the game. But how does a young man know when to contain his energy and when to use it? The answer is controlling the tempo of the game.
His second attribute is his natural ability combined with his basketball IQ. When you look back, it’s hard to remember a guy like this wearing an Eagles uniform. Not too many guys can do what he does, that is shoot with unlimited range (46 percent shooting on the year), handle the basketball, take someone to the hole, finish strong, and manage game tempo with confidence.
His ability to control the game is probably one of his most underappreciated attributes.
He knows when it’s time to push and when it’s time to use clock. Jackson single-handedly controlled the pace of the upset win over Clemson on Jan. 26 at the Conte Forum. He made two bad plays that I noticed, but overall he managed the game like a reincarnation of former BC guard Louis Hinnant.
I understand that he is second on the team with 55 turnovers, but he has consistently improved his problem as he has only turned the ball over more than three times once in the past seven games. He also appears out of control a lot, but he gathers himself and makes the smart play.
I don’t know how he does it, but he hardly loses the ball off the dribble in a crowd of defenders, especially when he appears to be losing it. Jackson is also a very quick player and fast at that. He is tall and lanky, and even though he may not be the strongest player on the court he knows how to take the ball to the basket and finish with authority.
To this point, Jackson has put himself in a great position to become one of the greatest players to come through Al Skinner’s program based on his ability to combine his basketball IQ, energy, and ability.
At this point, you are probably wondering why I think Jackson will be so good, or why I think he is the leader of this team. The first two attributes I listed about Jackson say it all and this next one will convince people as to why he is the Eagles’ leader.
I am also sure many of you are arguing that he is nowhere near Troy Bell, Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, or Tyrese Rice and you are right. His statistics don’t match up too well with those names through their first two years. Troy Bell and Craig Smith had over 1000 points after their sophomore years and Jared Dudley and Tyrese Rice both had over 800 points after their sophomore year. As of today (Jan. 17, '10) Jackson has 539 career points.
One thing to remember is that all of these players were starters in their sophomore years and all but Rice were as a freshman. Jackson hasn’t been starting because of his ability, but because he is more effective for the Eagles off the bench and he has the qualities to reach the caliber of those names.
Reggie Jackson’s third attribute is his emotion. There is no doubt that he is a cocky player, but it’s controlled. He takes it beyond being confident by letting everyone see it. He carries the swagger for this team. Ideally, there should be two or three guys like this (Smith, Dudley, Marshall, Williams 2005/06), but this team simply doesn’t have that. Jackson is a crowd pleaser, riser, and exciter.
Everyone knows that he can finish big and hit big shots, but not everyone realizes that he is the one guy that makes the Conte Forum turn into vibrant atmosphere. This attribute is a highly important quality of leadership. His teammates respond to him because he is loud and he isn’t afraid to open his mouth. He is the one guy on this team that carries that personality. Many argue that the best leadership is by example.
Well it may be, but in this case the Eagles have enough leaders by example. Eventually someone needs to step up and take charge. Swagger is the only word to describe Jackson. He and all the BC leaders of the past have carried it strong.
Swagger isn’t just beneficial to Jackson as a leader, but also as a guy who has ice running through his veins. His fourth attribute is his cool, calm, and collected demeanor down the stretch. I know we just discussed his cockiness, but just because he is smiling and clapping in his opponent's face on defense doesn’t mean that Jackson isn’t calm; it’s simply the way he is.
He looks for the ball down the stretch and wants to make the big shot. With a tight lead under 35 seconds left he is trying to get the ball in his hands to get fouled. He knows he is going to sink the free throws. If you recall earlier I mentioned that Jackson seems to lose control of the ball often, but always seems to come out with it on the dribble. This has resulted in his good decision making.
He trusts his abilities and because of that he is able to make the right decision. Jackson is a playmaker and the ice in his veins confirms it.
Lastly, Jackson has the desire to win. He lives for the roar of the crowd and he understands that winning results larger crowds at both home and road games. His personality is the reason he strives for attention and he knows that winning is the only way to fill the seats.
After the Clemson game on Jan. 26, Jackson responded to a question by saying, “If we want them to keep showing up (fans), we're going to have to get W's," Jackson said. "We know this is basically a professional city with the Red Sox and the Patriots and the Celtics. If we want people to show up, we're going to have to put up more W's and stop letting people down" (ESPN.com).
The kid gets it plain and simple. He came to BC for a reason. Jackson has already developed very well through just his first year and half and the sky is the limit for his future in the Boston College program.