For ex-Cougar Emery, decision came down to timing and opportunity

2011-07-24T00:30:00Z 2011-07-25T17:37:24Z For ex-Cougar Emery, decision came down to timing and opportunityBeky Beaton-Daily Herald Daily Herald
July 24, 2011 12:30 am  • 

For former BYU standout Jackson Emery, the choice to leave basketball behind was a difficult one to make, but he'd always been prepared to make it when the right time came.

He just didn't necessarily expect it to be right now.

"It's hard to be going 100 miles per hour one way and then switch and go a completely different direction," he said.

"When the season ended, my whole focus was on finding a future on the court. That was my goal and my plan," Emery continued.

He had a dozen or so solicitations from agents, and after narrowing his choices down to five, he finally selected Ben Pensack.

After that, they both went to work.

"He told me to keep up my workouts, stay in shape and work on my game," the player said. "I spent time with Jimmer, with some of the guys at BYU, with my little brother (Nick) and others trying to improve my overall skills.

"All together, there were 10-12 teams making inquiries about me, requesting film and so on," Emery went on. "I started to get a feeling though that most teams are reluctant to hire a rookie right out of college. They'd rather have someone who'd already played after."

That, coupled with all the uncertainties surrounding the NBA lockout, dragged out the process in an unusual way.

"Lots of teams were talking to us, but I had no real solid offers of the kind I was looking for and it was taking a lot longer than I'd hoped," he said.

In the meantime, he'd been talking to Daniel Blake, a friend from high school he'd known for years. Blake contacted him in February about a new business he'd started and said he'd like to talk when the season was done.

They did. Blake explained the business model for his start-up company, EcoScraps, which collects discarded fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away and turns them into organic compost and potting soil mix.

Emery was excited by what he heard.

"I've always had the dream of starting my own business or being part of a business that will thrive," Emery explained. "Even in school, I've had an entrepreneurial frame of mind. I always thought I'd be part of a business that will grow."

His friend offered him the opportunity to get on board in this early stage. He didn't really press him for a decision, but Emery felt he needed to make one soon.

"I gave myself a deadline, for two reasons. One, the farther you go into July and August, the more likely it would be that things would firm up basketball-wise. I knew my agent was working really hard and I didn't want to pull out the rug from under him."

Second, he thought it might be a business opportunity that would be too good to pass up.

"I talked to some other people, like Coach Rose, my dad, and Lee Cummard and his wife, trying to get lots of different opinions. After considering all the factors, I decided to stay here and accept the position.

"I've always told people that one day, I was going to have to grow up and get a job," he said with a smile. "For me, that time came this week."

Emery made the decision Wednesday night. One of the first calls he made was to his agent.

"He'd done a lot of hard work and been very persistent in my behalf," Emery said. "Out of respect for him, I chose to make a quick decision and let him move on. He's done a great job and this choice had nothing to do with any lack on his part."

Now, Emery said he's telling people he's dropped basketball for dirt. It makes them laugh, but he's only half-joking.

"The concept of this company is pretty simple, but brilliantly planned. This hasn't unfolded exactly how I envisioned it, but we'll take it as it comes and see how it works," he said.

He starts the new job officially on Aug. 1. "I thought I needed to take a week and gather myself for this next step," Emery said. "My mind knows I made the right decision, but I want the rest of me to catch up with it so I can make it my whole focus."

Emery and his wife Cherese already own a home in Provo, where they will remain for the time being. The couple are expecting their first child, a son, in six weeks.

Beky Beaton can be reached at


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