One night after making his college choice official, William Chrisman senior Isaiah Jackson could breathe easier and feel less pressure on the court.
Not that his coach really noticed.
“I didn’t today and quite honestly this was probably not a great game to measure that,” Chrisman coach Jake Kates said. “He’s so steady I don’t anticipate seeing a big difference.”
Jackson, Chrisman’s slick 6-foot-2 guard, announced Monday that he would sign with NCAA Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri State. And while he only scored nine points and played three quarters Tuesday in Chrisman’s 73-41 rout of Belton in the Bears gym, Jackson still displayed the flair that attracted him to the program that’s won two of the last three Division II titles.
“I definitely felt a little more relief and I could just go out there and play,” Jackson said. “I now have a home I can go to after high school.”
Jackson had hoped that home would be in Division I, and he did have some interest from lower D-I teams like North Dakota State, Florida Gulf Coast and Furman.
But in Northwest Missouri, Jackson is joining a program that is currently 22-1 and has gone 100-5 over the last three seasons. And he’s going to a place Kates believes is the best fit.
“Any time you can go be part of the best that’s what you want to do,” Kates said. “And they’re the best at the Division II level. He had some opportunities to go to some D-Is that wouldn’t have been as good of a situation. With his ultimate goal of playing professional basketball, I think Northwest is the best spot for him.”
Northwest Missouri’s up-tempo style is a good fit for Jackson, who can drive the lane, shoot from outside and make precision assists. And even with his Division I dreams, Jackson realized the Bearcats were the best place for him as well.
“Opportunity-wise I get to play for the best Division II program in the country,” Jackson said. “Having experienced playing with those guys on my first visit it’s kind of like a family up there like it is here. It was always my dream to play in D-I but obviously D-II is a great fit for me.”
Jackson averages 12.4 points and just over four assists a game, and he wasn’t close to either on a night when all the starters sat after the third quarter. Chrisman (14-7, 6-2 Suburban Middle Seven) settled this one early. Belton (3-17, 1-8) couldn’t handle the Bears’ quickness and committed 21 turnovers, seven in the first quarter alone.
Jackson scored seven of his points in the first quarter on two transition dunks and a 3-pointer, and Chrisman led 24-9 after the first quarter. That lead grew to 44-17 by halftime and 60-36 going into the fourth quarter.
“They’re (Belton) kind of undermanned right now and we’ve got a big group of seniors that have played a lot of basketball,” Kates said. “I think that first quarter dictated the way that game was going to go.”
Zachariah Rowe and Alex Calhoun were the only Bears to reach double figures with 11 points each. Rowe was 4 of 4 from the field in the first quarter and 5 of 6 from the line in the second. Eleven players scored for the Bears, including freshman and coach’s son Trey Kates, who had seven.