Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton said last winter that Jermyl Jackson-Wilson would have started on last year’s team. The 6-foot-6 forward couldn’t, of course, because he was sitting out a redshirt season after transferring to Colorado from Ohio State.
Patton said the same thing prior to Monday’s practice at the Coors Events Center. If Jackson-Wilson were available last season, he would’ve been in the starting lineup. As it was, he practiced with the second team all last year, pushing the first-teamers hard.
But there were days when Jackson-Wilson wasn’t allowed to go at it with his teammates.
“The only time that we would take him out was when he started to be a threat to hurt guys diving for loose balls,” Patton said. “He’ll run through a wall for a loose ball. He doesn’t mind sacrificing his body.”
Many months ago, Jackson-Wilson earned a reputation as a relentless worker on the court. He’s the guy that hustles, goes extra hard for the rebound. The working man’s player in a hip-hop hoops world.
The 21-year old figures diving after a loose ball on the court to help his team is the least he can do, considering what a guy named Archer Jackson does most every day — has done most every day for more than two decades — to help his family.
Since Jermyl was born into a family of five children in Milwaukee, Wis., Archer Jackson, Jermyl’s father, has been getting up in the middle of the night to start his work day.
“My dad delivers bread,” Jackson-Wilson says. “He has two jobs. He gets up every day at 3 in the morning and goes to work until about noon. Then he goes to the next one (at a bank) at 2 o’clock and gets off about 8 at night. He does the same thing the next day.
“If he can work that hard, working that hard on the court seems easier.”
Archer Jackson didn’t take on the second job at the bank until Jermyl was in middle school and the family needed some extra income.
“If we need money, dad goes to work. If we need things, dad goes to work,” Jermyl explains.
Son got a taste of Dad’s work ethic in high school when Archer tore the tendon in his knee. He didn’t stop working, but asked Jermyl to help him with deliveries for a while.
“I don’t want to work that hard,” Jermyl says. Then he corrects himself and laughs: “I want to work hard, but I don’t want to have to get up at 3 in the morning.”
Jermyl went from watching his role model to taking on more responsibility than many teenagers do when he attended Fork Union Military Academy, a post-prep school in Virginia, after high school.
There, he learned more about self-discipline. Patton took note of that when he initially recruited Jackson-Wilson before Jackson-Wilson chose Ohio State. Patton likes players with military backgrounds because he doesn’t have to worry about them getting into trouble off the court.
“It takes a degree of discipline to go through that,” Patton says. “You’ve got to wear a uniform, you’ve got to eat at a certain time and get up at the crack of dawn. Glean Eddy was one of those guys. We never had any issues with Glean Eddy off the floor. Those guys, they know how to go about their business.”
On the court, Jackson-Wilson’s business is around the basket. At 6-6, he’ll play power forward, and can move to the three, as well. He’s got the type of athleticism that will cause matchup problems for some teams.
“He plays a lot bigger than his walking around size,” Patton says. “That’s probably the thing that surprises most people. He’s very athletic, quick off the floor. But nobody knows about him.”
Out of sight, out of mind. Jackson-Wilson’s high school team, Rufus Wilson in Milwaukee, was ranked No. 17 in the country by USA Today. Hoop Scoop rated him the No. 46 prep prospect in the nation in 2003 before he went to Fork Union.
Jackson-Wilson committed to Ohio State head coach Jim O’Brien prior to 2004, but O’Brien and his staff were gone by the time Jackson-Wilson showed up in Columbus as a freshman. He languished on the bench that year, playing just 25 minutes the entire season. Unhappy, Jackson-Wilson decided to transfer to Colorado and play for Patton, a coach with whom he had developed a relationship during his high school days.
“He’s just sort of an unknown,” Patton said. “But he’s going to make a difference in our program for years to come.
“He’s just the kind of guy you want on your team.”