Sherman Dillard planted the Iowa seed with WIllie Jackson when he was a freshman. The assistant coach from that point on as the Garfield Heights (OH) High product blossomed into a high-level player.
Hawkeye Head Coach Fran McCaffery watched Jackson and his King James teammates play last weekend at the Boo Williams AAU tournament in Virginia. He liked what he saw.
This week, the relationship between Jackson and the Big Ten school took the next step. Iowa offered the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder a scholarship.
"Coach Dillard has been up here a few times," Garfield Heights Coach Sonny Johnson said. "He’s an unbelievable recruiter. We’ve got a good relationship with him.
"We were just waiting for Coach McCaffery to take a look at him. Once he did, the offer came."
Rivals.com ranks Jackson as the No. 149 player overall in the 2016 Class. The service pegs him as the No. 18 small forward nationally. Scout.com puts him at No 25 for that position.
Jackson averaged a team-high 13.0 points a game for Garfield Heights (24-4) this past season. He dropped a season-best 36 on Shaker Heights in mid-February and finished with 20 or more in three of his last four games.
In addition to Iowa, Jackson reports scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Iowa State, Minnesota, Penn State, SMU, Old Dominion, LaSalle, Toledo, Wright State, Buffalo, Miami (Ohio), Cleveland State and Bowling Green.
"He has great athleticism and high character. He’s an extremely unselfish teammate. He’s unbelievable around the basket. He has a great 15-footer. He can knock down the three. He can do multiple things," Johnson said.
Jackson was excited to get a call from McCaffery this week.
"He just told me that I would fit great at Iowa and that he could build my game and make me a pro. That was nice to hear," he said.
Said Johnson, who played at Ohio University after winning the state’s Mr. Basketball Award at Garfield Heights: "(Jackson) fits in well at Iowa because he’s going to play hard, he can run and he’s versatile. He’s a team-first guy. He’s a good defender. He competes every play."
Jackson feels good about his relationship with Dillard.
"He a great guy. He’s been watching me since I was a freshman and we’re real cool with each other," he said.
Jackson still is learning about Iowa but likes what he’s found out so far.
"I think it’s a great school. Coach McCaffery develops pros. I’m trying to find out more about them," he said.
Jackson, who wants to major in Criminal Justice, is considering a summer visit to Iowa. He said he will wait until the Spring of 2016 before he commits.