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CU forward Jermyl Jackson-Wilson arrived at Friday’s practice with a walking boot on his foot and a slight grimace on his face. For those who have seen Jackson-Wilson play, the sight of him being banged up shouldn’t be a surprise.
Jackson-Wilson, an undersized power forward who is listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, plays the game of basketball with a fervor and recklessness that even the most casual fan can appreciate. Despite frequently facing larger foes, the sophomore from Milwaukee, Wis., leads CU’s men’s basketball team in rebounding with an average of 8.5 boards per contest.
The hustle that Jackson-Wilson displays on the court can be attributed to lots of bottled up energy. The sophomore had to sit out last season due to NCAA rules after he decided to transfer from Ohio State to CU. Jackson-Wilson admits that sitting on the bench was not something he enjoyed.
“It was really hard. My freshman year was hard as well just sitting and watching and thinking I could help my team,” Jackson-Wilson said. “Then last year I knew I had to sit out after transferring but I still wanted to get out there a couple times, sort of like Superman — just rip off my clothes and get in there.”
Jackson-Wilson says he wanted to play at CU because he liked head coach Ricardo Patton and CU coming out of high school before eventually deciding to go to Ohio State. After becoming frustrated with a lack of playing time his freshman season, Jackson-Wilson called Patton and the coach extended him a scholarship.
Patton commended the sophomore for his yeoman-like work this season.
“Jermyl’s done a nice job and he’s getting better. We’re still trying to work him into game shape,” Patton said.
Jackson-Wilson seems to be getting comfortable at his new school, particularly on the court. Minutes are no longer a concern for the Wisconsin native as he is averaging 28 minutes per game for the Buffs this season, good enough for second on the team. Even though Jackson-Wilson is appreciative of his chance to be on the floor, he says he would trade in his numbers for more wins.
“I would rather average three points and two rebounds a game and us be 6-0 than the way it is now,” Jackson-Wilson said.
Jackson-Wilson’s stat line does not give a full indication of how instrumental he is already proving to be for coach Patton and the Buffs. Due to a lack of frontcourt depth on the club, Jackson-Wilson is usually left guarding players that have much more size, but he still manages to lead the team with seven blocks. Despite his important contributions to the squad, Jackson-Wilson feels like he can always improve.
“I’m doing pretty well but I can always do a little more to help my team. It’s kind of bittersweet to be playing well but not to have the wins,” Jackson-Wilson said.
Coach Patton feels that his entire team can learn something about the game of basketball by the way Jackson-Wilson plays.
“(Jermyl) works hard every day. I think if there is one thing I wish we’d all take from Jermyl it’s how hard he competes,” Patton said. “To get 14 rebounds, to get 17 rebounds, that’s just working hard. That’s not necessarily based on all talent. That’s just making that a part of who you are.”
It appears that unlike a lot of players where a lack of effort can be a concern, Patton has to concern himself with Jackson-Wilson making too much of an effort. He is currently battling a sore foot that has the CU training staff taking precautions such as the walking boot he was seen in on Friday. In addition to the foot, Patton revealed that his young forward has an asthma condition that requires he take a rest at certain times of a ballgame.
If Jackson-Wilson can stay on the court despite banging his body around, he will continue to be an extremely valuable asset to the 2-4 Buffs. Even though he is disappointed in his team’s slow start, Jackson-Wilson feels that the Buffs still have a lot of room for improvement.
“We just gotta work a little bit harder. You go to practice and work on things, you watch film and try to carry it over, and you keep playing. Then you play the next game and hope for a win,” Jackson-Wilson said.
A big factor in the team’s struggles this season has been the youth present throughout the roster. With eight freshmen coming onto the team this season and only one senior in Dominique Coleman, the Buffs are lacking in experience and leadership. Jackson-Wilson feels that he can help fill that void.
“I feel like I can be a leader. I’m not as vocal on the court as some guys but with the way I play, I think they feed off of it — the way I dive on the floor, get rebounds and work hard,” Jackson-Wilson said.
Vocal or not, Jackson-Wilson’s play is being noticed.