freshman

Lehi freshman Frank Jackson opens eyes with big game vs. LP

2013-02-21T00:20:00Z 2013-10-02T20:13:55Z Lehi freshman Frank Jackson opens eyes with big game vs. LPJared Lloyd - Daily Herald Daily Herald
February 21, 2013 12:20 am  • 

The Lone Peak boys basketball team has spent the 2012-13 season near the top of the national rankings and having played some of the best competition in the country in out-of-state tournaments. With all that experience, the Knights have certainly seen their share of great players.

So here's the trivia question: Who scored the most points against Lone Peak this season?

The answer might surprise many basketball fans.

It's Lehi freshman guard Frank Jackson, who poured in 30 points on the Knights in a game won by Lone Peak, 90-71, at Lehi on Feb. 15.

No, you didn't read that wrong. It was a freshman.

When asked Wednesday about pouring in that many points against such a highly-ranked opponent, Jackson said it was crazy.

"It just felt really good and that gave me a lot of confidence," he said. "I just kept shooting."

Jackson ended up going 9-of-11 from the field including making one of his two 3-point attempts. He also made 11-of-16 free throws.

And these weren't garbage points either. Jackson started the game and the Knights had a tough time slowing him down.

"We knew Jackson is a talented kid but until you see him against that type of competition, it was hard to see exactly where he was," said Pioneer head coach Bob Barnes. “He was able to create shots. Lone Peak has a talented defense but he was able to make some plays."

The freshman credited some of the success to his dad Al, who helped formulate a game plan against the Knights.

"He talked about getting into the lane and pulling up," Frank explained. "They have (6-foot-10 senior) Eric Mika in there, so I wasn't going to get to the basket a lot. He said he was proud of me and how I did."

Frank said his dad had been a big part of his basketball success since he was playing on a Little Tykes plastic hoop in the basement as a kid.

"We'd go one-on-one and I was really competitive," Frank recalled. "There would be some tears shed. He sometimes let me win but other times he'd whip up on me."

The two continued to build a basketball relationship as Frank got older, including early morning workouts for the last few years.

"Every morning since seventh grade we'd spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half shooting or working on drills to help me get better," Frank said. "It was hard sometimes but I always had the drive to get better and that motivated me to get up. It's paid off."

It's paid off both for Frank and for the Pioneers.

At the beginning of basketball season last year, Barnes added the freshman to the roster but didn't expect him to see many varsity minutes.

"We'd seen him play but he's made a lot of improvement in one year," the Lehi coach said. "At the first of the year, I didn't see him in the role he has now. He's just kept getting better."

Frank said he was excited and nervous to join the varsity squad initially but just kept working hard and is glad the coaches trusted him.

He also credited the Pioneer seniors, specifically super-scorer Blake Cleveringa, for helping him gain an understanding of what he needed to do at the varsity level.

"Cleveringa helped guide me through the plays and what to do," Frank said. "He's a very good player and just wanted to follow in his footsteps."

Lehi closed out its season Tuesday night with a 75-59 home win over Riverton. Frank ended up with eight points and both he and Barnes know that teams are going to be aware of him from now on.

"Coaches were aware of him before but now he's going to be a guy they focus on stopping," Barnes said. "They are going to think that if he can score those points against a team like Lone Peak, how are they going to stop him?"

And it's not just opponents. Recruiting interest is also beginning to build for the freshman, although Frank just laughed when asked if he'd already gotten five or six scholarship offers.

Frank said he has learned a lot in his first year and plans to build on it during the off-season.

"I want to work hard and keep improving," he said. "I'm going to focus on hitting the weight room and get bigger."

Barnes believes Frank can be exceptional in all areas of the game if he keeps getting better.

"He's a great kid who does what you ask him to do and is very coachable," Barnes said. "He's a good student and he's fun to be around."

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.

jared-lloyd
-- Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd is also the beat writer for the BYU football team, the columnist for the Cougar men’s basketball team and covers a variety of Utah Valley high school athletics. He can be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.
Read more from  Jared Lloyd here.

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