The on-court results of Memphis basketball’s head coaching transition from John Calipari to John Pastner won’t be known for a few months, but it certainly hasn’t hurt the Tigers on the recruiting trail.
Pastner landed his second blue chip guard Friday when hometown sensation Joe Jackson of White Station High School verbally committed to the program in a press conference held at the Larry O. Finch Center on the University of Memphis campus.
"He's going to be a Memphis Tiger," Jackson's AAU coach Eric Robinson said.
Jackson, the No. 11 senior in the country according to MaxPreps.com, averaged 26.2 points per game for White Station as a junior, leading the Spartans to Tennessee’s Class AAA state title. The 6-foot, 170-pound combo guard dropped in 35 points in the final.
“Fans were excited,” Robinson said of the atmosphere surrounding the announcement. “This restores the thought that Memphis is still a powerhouse. A lot of the fans in Memphis always want to see the best kids stay at home and with Joe being the first since Shawne Williams (Hamilton High School), the crowd was electrifying.”
Jackson joins brothers Will and Antonio Barton of Baltimore, Md., as 2010 commitments for the Tigers. Will Barton is rated as the No. 3 senior nationally. The Barton-Jackson backcourt could be special, according to Robinson.
“I watched them play with each other in New York and they complemented each other well,” Robinson said. “Will is an energy guy and Joe is an energy guy. They are both great in the open court.
“It’s going to be very exciting to see those guys in the same backcourt together and I think a lot more guys are going to want to come and play with them.”
Robinson noted that the success of guards Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis was a factor in the decision. Jackson picked the Tigers over his two other finalists Kansas and Tennessee.
Johnson enrolls at Taft
^ Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) put any questions about the preseason favorite in the Los Angeles City Section to bed with the addition of 6-10 junior post Kevin Johnson, who enrolled at the school this week according to head coach Derrick Taylor.
Johnson, ranked No. 60 in MaxPreps.com’s 2011 Top 100, joins a Toreador cast that already includes USC verbal commitment Bryce Jones (6-5, G) and fellow junior and Texas pledge DeAndre Daniels (6-7, WF).
“Besides his obvious size, great rebounder and outlet guy,” Taylor said of Johnson. “His offense is very underrated, but he is pretty skilled. He should really ignite our offense so we can get out and run.”
Taylor and Taft ran into eligibility issues last season with Jones, who transferred to the school from View Park Prep and was forced to play with the junior varsity. Taylor is optimistic that won’t be the case with Johnson.
“We still have to clear one more hurdle,” Taylor said.
Taft will participate in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in San Diego, Calif., in December.