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Improved Jackson signs with Florida College

By CAREY FREEMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 24, 2001


LECANTO -- Call it the perfect cure for anonymity. Lecanto's Chris Jackson entered his last basketball season as a relatively unknown entity, but that would change rather quickly for the Panthers' late bloomer, who led all area big men in scoring and rebounds during his senior year.

Suddenly, everyone knew about Jackson, the versatile post-player whose effort was crucial in Lecanto claiming its first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title. That list includes Florida College's Kenny Moorer, who came out the big winner among several coaches Monday when Jackson signed a letter of intent to play for the Falcons. "We came up to watch him play, and we really liked what he could do," Moorer said. "I like that he's got some size, but he's got some skills too and I feel like his best years may be ahead of him."

Moorer, who guided Florida College to an 18-13 record and a fourth-place finish in the National Junior College Association Tournament, is counting on just that. A role player for much of his four-year high school career, Jack son bloomed into a devastating inside force his final season and led Lecanto with an average of 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.

"I focused harder," said Jackson, who went from 6-foot-1, 135 pounds his freshman year to 6-7, 212 pounds. "I looked at it as if there was no true big man that could stop me. Against all the schools we played against, there was no one person who could stop me one-on-one in the post. I used my height and long arms to my advantage."

A number of schools, including NCAA Division II semifinalist University of Tampa, showed interest in Jackson, but the Falcons won out for a number of reasons.

"I like the way the coaching staff treated my mom (Linda Livesay)," Jackson said. "She's my No. 1 fan, and she comes to all my games. I also like the fact it's 1 1/2 hours away. That way, I'm away from home, but I'm not away from home. I'm close enough where I can come home on the weekends and they can come to my games."

Jackson understands the differences between high school and college as well and fully knows that his role will be expanded at the next level. Moorer said Jackson could see time at small forward, power forward or center -- something that didn't seem to worry Jackson too much.

"I'm not even at the top of my potential yet," Jackson said. "I can step out and hit a three, and if they put a (small forward) against me, I should be able to back him down and use my post game there."

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