Interview with MAC Player of the Year and Akron Star Loren Jackson
For Loren Jackson, height is just a number.
At 5’8, well under the average for a basketball player, Jackson has shown that this doesn’t matter, with elite scorer and playmaking. In fact, he was so good that he received the conference player of the year award in the Mid American Conference after averaging 19.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, and shot an impressive 42.8% from three-point range. In this interview, we talked about several topics like his decision to transfer, winning the conference title, and next season’s goals. Feel free to listen to the conversation, or read it if you prefer.
1) Coming out of high school, what made you decide to go to Long Beach State?
Loren Jackson: I decided to go to Long Beach State because the coaches came to a lot of my games and I was very familiar with them. I thought I had real trust with them, and that ended up turning out to be a little different but that’s why I decided to go to Long Beach State.
2) You had a decent season at LBSU but decided to transfer after one season. What was the main reason for that?
Loren Jackson: The main reason for that is I lost trust in the coaching. There were a lot of things that they told me would happen that didn’t happen, and there were a lot of things they told me they would have that they didn’t end up having.
3) What made you decide on Akron as your college destination?
Loren Jackson: When I went on my visit to see coach Groce, I felt a huge trust. I had a feeling early on and he reminded me a lot of my dad who’s a basketball coach, so that was hard to beat when you have someone like that. That’s what made me commit there. I only took one visit to Akron, I didn’t even take another visit to any other schools.
4) This season you had career highs in every category. What was one part of your game you changed or developed to do so?
Loren Jackson: I just continued to work and continued to keep getting better every single day. I tried to become more consistent with my shooting and that’s pretty much it.
5) Akron was most likely going to make the tournament after winning the conference, so what was your reaction when you heard the conference and NCAA tournaments were cancelled?
Loren Jackson: It was tough. In the locker room it was tough. The whole process that we went through and all the stuff that we worked for was gone which is tough to go through. It was tough to think that all of our goals that we set and accomplished, but our biggest goal we couldn’t accomplish because the season was cut short so it was hard to realize that. We had a lot of seniors too and those guys won’t ever get the chance to play together again, so that was tough.
In the moment, I didn’t agree with it because I thought it should be our choice. Those tournament games are opportunities for scouts to look at us and follow us, so it took away that opportunity for all of us.
6) How did it feel to lead your team to a regular-season conference title just two years after Akron finished last in the conference?
Loren Jackson: It felt good, it was just something we’ve been working for, and something we believed in as a team. It felt good to complete all of our goals.
7) You had 5 games of over 30 points this season. What have you done to improve as a scorer?
Loren Jackson: Being more consistent and working on my shot a lot more. Also taking good shots and making open shots.
7a) Was there one game where you just couldn’t miss?
Loren Jackson: The Ohio game at Ohio was a pretty good game where I missed two or three shots so that. I felt pretty good about that game. At the moment, I didn’t have that “I’m hot” feeling, but shots were just going in.
8) At 5’8, what is the main advantage of your size that puts you ahead of other guys?
Loren Jackson: I’ve been the smallest on every team I’ve played with ever since I was little, so I’m used to it. I can still make shots and I can get into little crevices that most people can’t and I can get through gaps. People have a tougher time guarding smaller players because they’re usually faster and lower to the ground. I try to use that as an advantage.
9) What was your reaction when you heard you won MAC POY? What was a bigger accomplishment, winning player of the year or the conference?
Loren Jackson: To be honest, I kind of expected it. I felt like I was having a pretty good year, and it was something that I worked hard for, and I believed in myself to the utmost and had very high confidence. I was a little bit worried about it but if I got it, I got it and if I didn’t, I didn’t and it was really more about our teams success. I was just happy that our team is doing well.
Winning the conference was definitely a bigger accomplishment. That was the happiest moment seeing the joy on everyone’s faces. It’s something we set out to do, and a goal that we accomplished, so it was fun to see and the locker room atmosphere afterward was awesome, and something I’ll always remember.
10) What is one part of your game you want to work on for next season?
Loren Jackson: I want to become even more consistent. I want to try to get more assists this year as well and try to win as many games as possible.
11) Do you have any individual or team goals for next season?
Loren Jackson: Right now, I have team goals which are to try to get back to where we are at and march madness, and finish what we didn’t get to finish. As far as individual goals, keep becoming a better me, keep and getting better.