Sumner point guard Keenen Jackson can drive, but new jump shot makes him elite

Staff writerDecember 17, 2013 

Point guard Keenen Jackson was a quick finisher to the rim, and led the Sumner High School boys basketball team in scoring last season.

The only thing standing between Jackson and elite scorer status: a consistent jump shot.

Opponents knew that, too. Containing him was as simple as crowding the key and forcing him to take jump shots.

When he got hot, the Spartans were fine — Jackson scored more than 20 points four times. But when he was off, it was a struggle — he was held to single-digit scoring eight times.

“You can’t say you are an elite athlete until you are consistently doing it every night,” Sumner coach Brett McDaniel said. “If he’s consistent with his 3-point shot, and he can drive to the hoop and he’s playing defense – man, then we are talking about him being one of the best players in the state.”

Early into the new season, Jackson is already on his way to making that leap.

He’s made as many 3-pointers in two games this season (6-for-10) as he did in 26 games last season (6-for-38).

The overall message?

It’s going to take a lot more than a zone defense to stop him.

“All I did was drive last year,” Jackson said. “I really didn’t have an outside shot, and I think that hurt us. So that’s what I worked on all summer.”

He had some outside help.

Auburn coach Ryan Hansen knows a few things about scoring. He left Cascade of Leavenworth in 1995 as the state’s No. 2 career scorer with 2,411 points.

Hansen is a good friend of McDaniel and he worked with Jackson and other Sumner players in the fall.

Hansen noticed unnecessary movement in Jackson’s shot. So he pushed Jackson to start it near his chest instead of his waist.

“What we tried to do was eliminate some of that movement,” Hansen said. “The idea is the more space from where you start your shot to where you release determines how much more can go wrong.”

Then came the training of muscle memory.

“My shot just started coming to me,” Jackson said. “It really opens up my whole game. … Now that I can actually make a shot, guys can feed me out there.”

McDaniel compared Jackson to some of the elite scorers from the area — former Clover Park guards Ahmaad Rorie (now at Montverde Academy in Florida) and David Crisp (now at Rainier Beach), and even former Curtis High School and current Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas, who, like Jackson, is a point guard and left-handed.

“Keenen is working toward that level of play,” said McDaniel, who was an assistant coach at Blaine High School when Milwaukee Bucks guard Luke Ridnour played. “He has a really explosive first step. When he gets his footing under him, he’s going to get to the rim almost every time.

“You can’t guard him man to man. You can’t. And if you can, you are a really, really good player. His finishing ability is really good, one of the best finishers in the league and he can go left or right. Now add the step-back and the perimeter game and it’s going to be special.”

Jackson went toe-to-toe with Crisp’s Clover Park squad last year. Both had season-highs as Jackson scored 28 and Crisp had 42. Sumner lost, 85-70.

“When I see someone who is as good or better than me, I want to prove I’m the best player on the court, that I’m better than him,” Jackson said. “I know (Crisp is) a great player, but we battled; and he’s probably (an NCAA Division I) player. It just gave me the realization that I can be a D-I player, too.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
t.cotterill@thenewstribune.com
@Cotterill44

BASKETBALL PREVIEW

CLASS 2A BOYS

POWER RANKINGS

  1. White River: If ball-handling pans out, most complete team.
  2. Sumner: Full-court pressure is both furious and physical.
  3. Clover Park: Athletes still enough to keep Warriors around.
  4. River Ridge: Post-Wallace life will rely on “Young Guns.”
  5. Tumwater: Much like football team, will aim to bruise.

SPSL 2A

CRYSTAL BALL*

  1. White River (20-7)
  2. Sumner (15-12)
  3. Clover Park (22-7)
  4. Steilacoom (10-14)
  5. Fife (11-9)
  6. Franklin Pierce (13-11)
  7. Washington (4-16)
  8. Orting (2-17)

* 2012-2013 records

FAB FIVE

FBrandon Dove6-3Sr.White River
Slimmed down and is playing more on perimeter; most consistent producer.
GDustin France6-0Jr.White River
Right now he is running at point guard, but best position is scoring forward.
GKeenen Jackson6-1Sr.Sumner
Spartans want him to constantly set table; they will need him to score, too.
GGlenn Jordan5-11So.Steilacoom
Very aggressive and shifty, he also leads Sentinels' lock-you-down mantra.
GPhilip Winston6-1Sr.Clover Park
With Crisp gone to Rainier Beach, he becomes team's top scoring option.

2A Evergreen Conference

CRYSTAL BALL*

  1. River Ridge (17-7)
  2. Tumwater (6-15)
  3. W.F. West (15-8)
  4. Centralia (14-8)
  5. Capital (15-8)
  6. Aberdeen (5-15)
  7. Black Hills (3-17)

* 2012-2013 records

FAB 5

GJosiah Warner6-3Sr.Tumwater
Part of the T-Birds’ 1-2 scoring punch. Had 29 points in season-opening win at Yelm.
G/WNathan Shefrey6-4Sr.W.F. West
Good-sized wing with good range from 3-point land.
GJason Kananin5-10Jr.River Ridge
Strong shooter from outside who coach John Barbee calls the team’s stabilizer.
WDavid Cooper6-4Jr.Tumwater
Flashy wing can light it up from anywhere on the floor.
FTanner Gueller6-3Sr.W.F. West
Pure three-sport athlete knows his role on the hardwood.

CLASS 2A GIRLS

POWER RANKINGS

  1. W.F. West: Class 2A runner-up is tall, defensive-minded
  2. White River: Deep, talented – not a lot of weaknesses.
  3. River Ridge: Returns all five starters, could shake up EvCo.
  4. Sumner: Never hurts to have beastly go-to player (Lange).
  5. Black Hills: Still young, might be year away from EvCo run.

SPSL 3A

Crystal Ball*

  1. White River (21-5)
  2. Sumner (20-6)
  3. Franklin Pierce (11-12)
  4. Fife (10-13)
  5. Washington (13-11)
  6. Clover Park (4-13)
  7. Steilacoom (4-15)
  8. Orting (0-20)

* 2012-2013 records

FAB FIVE

CKendall Bird 6-0Fr.White River
Is 14 years old, but folks in Buckley know she is developing elite talent.
GAnna Hurd5-9Jr.Sumner
Hit big 3-pointers to help Spartans win WCD title; should score more.
GAmanda Lance5-7Jr.White River
She is taller, more mature and she will spearhead Hornets' full-court press.
FJamie Lange6-1Jr.Sumner
Already has a pair of 2A soccer titles as goalkeeper; can she add to that?
FKristin Sturdivan5-10Jr.White River
Tall, rangy girls with good shooting range don't grow on trees; very smooth.

CIRCLE THE CALENDAR

Feb. 7, Sumner at White River, 5:15 p.m.

2A Evergreen Conference

CRYSTAL BALL*

  1. W.F. West (22-5)
  2. River Ridge (20-7)
  3. Black Hills (15-8)
  4. Centralia (13-12)
  5. Aberdeen (10-12)
  6. Tumwater (4-16)
  7. Capital (4-16)

* 2012-2013 records

FAB 5

GJazzlynn Brewster5-6Sr.River Ridge
Team's returning leading scorer isn't afraid to take over a game.
GEmily Fisher6-0Sr.Aberdeen
One of few post players in the EvCo who can hit the 3.
FSarah McGee5-11Sr.Black Hills
Southern Utah signee has guard-like ball-handling skills.
FJulie Spencer6-2Sr.W.F. West
Pure post with an outside shooting touch. One of three 6-foot-2 or taller posts for the Bearcats.
CNike McClure6-3Sr.W.F. West
WSU signee's athleticism shows in multiple ways. She can dunk, too.

Todd Milles and Meg Wochnick, staff writers

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