By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The men's basketball team at Hawaii Pacific University has the best record among all college men's teams in Hawaii. And some believe the Sea Warriors also have the best player in the state.
Mike Helton is leading the HPU attack averaging 20.3 points per game. But CJ Jackson is grabbing the headlines because he's grabbing rebounds and scoring.
"He's extremely strong," HPU head coach Tony Sellitto said of Jackson. "And he's a terrific player around the basket. You know he's got a great left hand. He can go right or left. And he puts the ball on the floor ... maybe one or two dribbles and as far as that goes he's very exciting," Sellitto added.
In a game against UH Hilo this season Jackson scored 33 and pulled down 15 boards. That's a solid performance, but his 27 point 22 rebound game against the Vulcans may have been even better.
After a somewhat slow start Jackson has recorded double doubles (pts. & rebs.) in 15 of HPU's last 16 games. The only game he missed a double double (vs. BYU-Hawaii) was the only game HPU lost, and in that game he only missed a double double by 1 point.
"If I have to say one thing I have to do it's rebounding and getting to the rim. Coach talks about only person who can stop me is myself. The times that teams slow me down is because I let them. I decide to pull up and take a jumper instead of getting to the rim," Jackson told Hawaii News Now.
Jackson attended high school in Georgia. He then accepted a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Illinois. He played three seasons with the Illini basketball team and played tight end for one season with the Illini football team. But with playing time in both sports limited, Jackson sought a change. A buddy from Georgia, UH forward Petras Balocka, suggested Jackson come to Hawaii.
"He was just joking around, 'Hey man. Come to Hawaii. You know what I'm saying. Forget that (Illinois). Just come to Hawaii. Hoop with your boy' ... as in come to the University of Hawaii,"
Jackson considered a transfer to UH, but knew he would have to sit out a year because he would be transferring from one Division One school to another, so he chose Division Two HPU instead.
"If I had to pick one spot to go to and have basically an extended vacation, why wouldn't I do it in Hawaii?"
HPU is 16-4 overall and 8-1 in the PacWest Conference.
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