FAYETTEVILLE — A three-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree, it’s no surpriseJessica Jackson is also a frontrunner for SEC Freshman of the Year and has had a major and immediate impact on the Arkansas program this season. A Jacksonville, Ark., native, the hometown freshman phenom came in ranked as the No. 7 recruit in the nation in the class of 2013 by Dan Olson’s Collegiate Girl’s Basketball Report, as well as the No. 17 overall prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100. Jackson considered offers from Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Miami.
Jackson is averaging 16.7 points per game this season and ranks fourth in the SEC. She has reached double-digit scoring in 19 of 20 games this season, including 20+ points in four of the last six games. As just a freshman, Jackson became the first Razorback to score 31+ points in a game since Dominique Washington scored 37 as a junior (2006-06). Only three Razorbacks have put up 31+ point performances dating back to the 2002-03 season (Jackson, Washington, Shameka Christon).
The Daily Call caught up with Jess midway through her first year of playing collegiate basketball at Arkansas.
The Daily Call:What made you want to become a Razorback?
Jess Jackson:I grew up a Razorback fan. It’s home. I want to work and become a hometown hero.
TDC:What does college basketball mean to you?
JJ:Playing college basketball means a lot. From when I first started playing, all the hard work I’ve put in it’s become a dream come true. It’s the next step toward my goal which is to go to the WNBA.
TDC:As a freshman, what are your impressions of college so far?
JJ:I think Arkansas is a great place. It has a great atmosphere and the fans are really loyal.
TDC:How old were you when you started playing basketball?
JJ:I was 12 or 11.
TDC:You scored a career-high 31 points earlier this season at home against Ole Miss. What’s the most points you’ve ever scored in a game going back to even middle school?
JJ:It was here in college. Thirty-one points is the most I’ve ever scored. I guess you have to be excited, but I’m never really worried about the points.
TDC:What do you do before each game?
JJ:I listen to music like On the Mend(Foo Fighters) or What Would You Do(Bastille). I usually eat some Gushers or something, too. I really love Gushers.
TDC:How many songs would you say are on your music device?
JJ:I have 368 songs. I remember because I shuffle my songs a lot and it says, "1 of 368 songs."
TDC:What’s your favorite kind of music?
JJ:Almost anything. I mean, I don’t like Orchestra or Hard Rock, but I like almost all music. I like them all the same. If there was a game called "Don’t Forget the Lyrics," I think I could go back and name a lot of them.
TDC:Who would you say was your childhood hero?
JJ:My Dad. I also really look up to Elena Delle Donne (WNBA-Chicago Sky) on the court. I love her game and she’s real good. She used to play at Delaware.
TDC:Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
JJ:I’ve met Jason Terry (NBA-Brooklyn Nets). He was coaching his daughter’s AU team when I met him. I’ve met one of the girls from "Good Times." There are like two more famous people, but I can’t think of them right now.
TDC:If you could play any other sport at Arkansas, what would it be?
JJ:Gymnastics. I like watching all the flips–everything. I’d love to do everything. I haven’t been able to make it to a gymnastics meet here yet, but I want to go so bad.
JJ:In 10 years I hope to be playing professional basketball. Or, if that doesn’t work out I’d like to coach at the college level.
TDC:Do you watch a lot of basketball on TV?
JJ:To be honest, I probably wouldn’t ever watch a college basketball game, because I don’t really like to watch basketball. I’m serious, too. I didn’t even really watch Arkansas games on TV before I got here. I watched maybe like one or two games.
TDC:What do you like to watch on TV then?
JJ:I watch cartoons a lot of the time. Lots of cartoons. My favorite cartoons are early in the morning and either Tom and Jerry or anything on Disney. I like The Boondocks and Family Guy, too.
TDC:Do you have any favorite movies?
JJ:Yes, my favorite movie of all-time is The Lion King.