William Chrisman senior Isaiah Jackson has spent so much time on the road this summer, one might expect him to be a travel agent.
No, he’s just one of the premier basketball standouts in Eastern Jackson County.
“Let’s see,” Jackson, who plays for Team KC in the summer months, “we’ve been to Oklahoma City, we won a tournament in Denver, we’ve played in Dallas and Chicago, we’re going back to Dallas and in a few weeks and we’re playing in the Hardwood Classic in Lawrence, Kansas.
“It’s been a wild and busy summer, but it’s been so much fun. It helps make me realize how special next season is going to be at Chrisman. The culture has changed in the classroom, in the hallways and in every sport at Chrisman since I was a freshman, and now I’m a senior.
“This is the season I’ve been dreaming about – my senior season with my brothers on the team, our coaches and our fans. It’s going to be incredible.”
The cultural change at Chrisman began four years ago with Don Cameron, who won just four games Jackson’s freshman year, but the young man with the endearing smile knew the best was yet to come.
“Coach Cameron started it, and Coach (Jake) Kates took it to the next level,” said Jackson, an All-Suburban Middle Seven and all-district selection last season when he averaged 12.5 points, 6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. “We learned what it took to win under Coach Cameron and Coach Kates just took the ball and ran with it.
“The first time we met him, we all got so excited. He is so passionate. He loves us and we love him. He gets fired up at our games and he works so hard. And we want to work hard because we don’t want to let him down. I think he’s as excited about this year as we are.”
That might be an understatement.
“I can’t wait,” Kates said, with his customary grin, after a recent scrimmage at Van Horn High School. “We have eight seniors, and they are going to mean so much to the team. And Isaiah – oh man, Isaiah Jackson is a heart and soul player who is going to mean so much to me and this program.
“He’s the backbone, the glue. People are just starting to find out what a great player he is. And he’s an even better young man than he is a player – and that’s a credit to his parents and everyone he’s been around in his life. I get so excited just thinking about next season, I wish it started tomorrow.”
So does Jackson.
“I talk with the guys on the (Bears) team all the time, and we’re ready for something big to happen,” Jackson said. “We won four games when I was a freshman and we were 20-9 last season. And we were happy to be 20-9, but our goal was going to state, and we fell short of that goal (losing 63-58 to Lee’s Summit North in the Class 5 state quarterfinals).
“I want to be a leader on the team this year – a leader in all phases of the game, from the classroom to the court. And I feel confident that I will be a good leader. Anything I can to make this a special season I’m willing to do because I’ve dreamed about this season all my life.
“And now, well, now it’s all real.”