CJ proud to see what’s developing at Redbacks

WHEN the chance presented to return to the Perth Redbacks where he is a championship winner and former coach, CJ Jackson was more excited about the impact he could have on the entire club from juniors up and already he can’t be happier with seeing what’s happening.

Jackson has always been someone willing to give his all into developing the juniors and helping young basketballers learn the game, have fun while doing and to grow as people in the process, and that’s not changed even if he is coaching at SBL level once again.

The former Californian who arrived at the Redbacks as an import to play on the 1990 championship winning team was appointed as Men’s SBL coach at the club for 2020 marking his return to the league but it was far from a return to basketball.

Jackson has remained heavily involved in coaching and teaching basketball from the ground up whether he has been coaching in the SBL at the same time or not, and that has remained his focused to remain closely involved in helping everyone at the Redbacks no matter their age or level.

So while Jackson has put a lot of time and effort into coaching the Redbacks now in the SBL replacement West Coast Classic and he is committed to trying to help them book in a finals spot over the last three weeks, he also has an eye on the bigger picture.

While it has been exciting that the Redbacks have won all six of their home matches during the West Coast Classic at Belmont Oasis, what has encouraged Jackson even more about the future is seeing all the young faces coming along to the games to support the team.

“I think probably the biggest thing for us is that our juniors are coming and bringing all their families. I do a lot of work with the juniors and I go to their games, I go to the WABL games and if I am coming to their games, I tell them they should come to ours as well,” Jackson said.

“A lot of them have been coming and they have a good time, and this is a good night out for them. We are putting on a pretty good atmosphere and this week was not any different in our last home game.”

Then there is the energy, youth and excitement surrounding the SBL program at the Redbacks that has Jackson so buoyant about what the future holds.

The team in the West Coast Classic now sits in fourth position in the standings with a 7-3 record with road matches to finish against the Rockingham Flames, Goldfields Giants and Lakeside Lightning.

While there is no question they are well led by the SBL all-time assists leader Joel Wagner along with Caleb White, Tevin Jackson, Dennis Tawhiti and Marshall Nelson, it’s the exciting youth coming through that has Jackson so excited.

Ethan Vlahov is getting plenty of opportunity to show what he’s capable of while Michael Riley, Lachlan Bertram, Bang Majok, Ronan Coppin, Derek Igbenoba and Kyden Edman are among the exciting next generation.

That’s why Jackson is so excited about what the future holds and he can’t wait for a regular season again in 2020 where there’s a full SBL, or NBL1 West, campaign, to go with a D-League season where he can give all the players training hard right now the chance to play at either level.

While Jackson isn’t sure if it’s the chance to play under him or the good work the club is doing to make it an attractive destination for young players, but either way to have so many youngsters wanting to play at the Redbacks is something that has him in no doubt about his decision to return.

“At any given time we can have up to 22 guys at training so there are a lot of guys missing out, but our D-League is going to be strong as well,” Jackson said.

“We just have to keep on pushing each other and they just have to know where they sit. We have a young team where our average age is really young and they have to stick together for three to five years, and we have a powerhouse team on our hands.

“There’s a couple of factors and a lot of guys want to play for our club. I don’t know if it’s because of me, but it’s for our club and the excitement is there with them and they play hard, and go hard at each other at training.

“Really there’s no cap on our limit and even with some of these young kids that are out here playing, they can see that young guys are getting an opportunity so they aren’t wasting their time. That’s one of the things I’ve been forthcoming with in all my programs is that if there are young kids able to play, I’m going to let them play.”

Jackson will never lack any faith in his own ability to coach even after some years of absence from coaching at SBL level, but that’s because he has remained closely involved in basketball the whole time and coaches and teaches every day of his life.

So he has enjoyed his return to the Redbacks even if the season hasn’t panned out like he expected thanks to COVID-19, and he can’t wait to help now build the future of the club that has such a special place in his heart.

“I think I’ve picked it back up and the reason for that is because of the success I’ve had with my Scotch boys in the PSA and taking them over to America. So I’ve been able to see different styles of basketball and still be engaged in basketball pretty much full-time,” Jackson said.

“Because of that when I go on a court and when we play, I feel like I’m one of the best coaches in WA so if I am one of the best, I have to bring it to the guys and they have to know I’m dialled in to what I do.

“I think it helps with me being a former player as well so you know what the players are going through, and that’s probably what the keys have been for me.”

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