As he prepares to cheer on the Cairns Taipans in their NBL semi-final Game 3 on Thursday night, Tevin Jackson can’t wait for the 2020 SBL season, playing under his dad at the Perth Redbacks and being able to fully remind everyone what he’s capable of.
Coming off his college career where he spent his junior year at McNeese State, Jackson spent two years as a development player in the NBL with the Taipans and also playing in the QBL for the Cairns Marlins.
He decided to return home to Perth in 2019 and he joined up with the defending champion Perry Lakes Hawks, but his appearance on the court was delayed until the last couple of weeks of the regular season due to injury.
He then took part in the Hawks’ playoff push where they beat the Rockingham Flames in the quarter-finals but fell short to the Joondalup Wolves in two games of the semi-finals.
Jackson offered a glimpse of what he was capable of in that Game 2 against the Wolves with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds, but just as he was warming up suddenly the season was over.
But with his dad CJ Jackson appointed new coach at the Redbacks, he was only too happy to join his new club and couldn’t be happier to now be approaching his debut season there.
“Obviously dad’s got tonnes of history with the Redbacks and playing with some great players, even Luc Longley. He’s had great success with the club so it only seemed right for me to come over and play under his wing, and learn the game a little bit more through him,” Jackson said.
“I feel like I’m a pretty high IQ type of basketball player, but you can always learn more and I look forward to doing that with him as my coach. He’s got great history there so it only seems right to now be playing there as well.”
While he is back in Perth, Jackson understandably has a strong connection with the Cairns Taipans and that’s where his loyalties will lie for Game 3 of their semi-final series against the Wildcats at RAC Arena on Thursday night.
“I can only hope that Cairns Taipans pull through. I think they’ve made the necessary adjustments on and off the court to put themselves in the best position possible so it’d only be right,” Jackson said.
“Obviously I am a Perth boy and you see things that probably should or shouldn’t happen which can become frustrating to watch. But obviously you have to play in The Jungle and it’s tough to get wins there.
“Even though Cairns have won there, they haven’t done it in this type of setting of a Game 3. Really I think the Wildcats backs against their wall, but it’s a tough place to win. If Cairns can stick it to them though, I think I’d be happy with that.”
As keen as Jackson was to join the Redbacks to play under his father, he also wanted to be part of a team that was capable of success.
And now when he looks a likely starting five featuring himself, Brian Carlwell, Zac Gattorna, Caleb White and Joel Wagner with good young players behind them, he is looking forward to a big bounce-back season from the Redbacks who missed out on the finals in 2019.
“I think just the group of guys that I would potentially be able to play with was pretty exciting for me. Someone like Joel Wagner and then obviously BC has come across too, and in the off-season they’ve signed Caleb White,” he said.
“We had been messaging back and forth to try and get something sorted. There’s Zac Gattorna still there too so obviously I saw a lot of potential there when we were in talks in the early days, and I was thinking about that potential starting five plus a couple of others who can definitely go the distance to make us a competitive team in the long run.
“So I’m pretty happy with the team we’ve put together and we had a good hit-out last week against Rockingham. We had our full squad and you can already just see the potential we have there, and how we can run and just disrupt teams defensively. It was a lot of fun as well seeing a lot of the younger guys that are out there and pushing for some game time.”
Jackson did already play with big man Brian Carlwell last season with Perry Lakes and is only too happy to have the two-time SBL championship winner with him now at the Redbacks to play up front alongside him.
To then also have the SBL all-time assists leader in Joel Wagner to run the ship too and Jackson is pretty excited at the way this Redbacks group has come together.
“I think BC had a couple of issues last year where he felt like he wasn’t being heard and his talents weren’t probably being used as well as they could have been,” Jackson said.
“We have a great relationship on and off the court, and I value someone like BC who keeps it real. He doesn’t really shy away from telling you how he really feels and especially if it’s going to benefit you, I really appreciate that.
“We (with Wagner) talk pretty much every practice about how we can always get better and there’s always room for improvement, and Joel is just that guy who is very outspoken in terms of how he wants to see the team improve.
“When he’s talking like that, you can’t expect anything but good from him and for the team for the whole season. He’s a pass-first point guard who tries to get everyone involved, and I appreciate that because I feel I try to do that as well.
“So if we can have two floor generals out there and it’s not one at a time, it makes the game a lot easier and it also helps the young guys as well learn the game a whole lot better. I’m very appreciative of getting to play with Joel.”
Given Jackson didn’t hit the court last season until July 12 against the Redbacks and then made just three appearances before the playoffs, it wasn’t quite the 2019 campaign he was hoping for but was starting to feel good by Game 2 of the semi-finals against Joondalup.
“I think it was the first game against the Wolves where I started and it was kind of frustrating being the first player taken off from the starting group,” he said.
“Then even earlier when we had a couple of rounds there where I was pretty frustrated because I felt like I hadn’t played a lot and I really just wanted to be out there regardless of whether I fouled out or not or if I was doing well or not. I just wanted to spend more time out there.
“Then by Game 2 against the Wolves, I sort of found my groove but it was a little bit late given we lost that series. But it just felt good being out there and hopefully I can stick that together for a full season now.”
Jackson has put in a power of work now in this off-season to have himself back at his peak physically and the 26-year-old is looking forward to making the most of all that hard work by delivering a standout season at the Redbacks to get his career back up and flying.
“I’ve been in contact with Dave Philpot a lot and we’ve been talking back and forward about how I can keep my leg strong, and what I can and what I can’t do. We just keep checking in on each other, and he’s been instrumental to my comeback on the court,” Jackson said.
“It’s pretty much a load management thing for me so I have to keep an eye on my weight as well as what I’m doing on and off the court is pretty important. When I got to Cairns, they wanted me to be 100 kilos so I pretty much put on 11 kilos because I was 89 when I first got there.
“I put that weight on and that’s pretty much how the injury happened with that extra weight. It’s really about load management and staying at an ideal playing weight. I’m around 94 now which is good for me because I’m still quick which I’ve always been so I still have my athleticism which I’ve been able to retain.”