With no true seven-footers on their roster this season, the Penn Quaker’s recently added towering height for their near future. This past Tuesday, seven-foot-three big man, Mark Jackson, out of Salt Lake City, Utah, verbally committed to playing for the Quakers.
However, Jackson, who graduated from Salt Lake City East High School in 2015, will not be playing in the City of Brotherly Love this coming season. As a Mormon, Jackson is currently on his overseas flight to Paris as part of his two-year mission.
Read more on Mormon missions for college athletes here: http://www.vanquishthefoe.com/2015/5/9/8564195/guide-what-athletes-do-on-lds-mormon-missions-trips-hint-not-professional-training-or-weightlifting
Due to the mission, Jackson will not be considered a college freshman until the 2017 season, which will be his first for the Penn Quakers. Though many may see the two year break from basketball as a setback in terms of staying in shape and sustaining fundamental skills, Jackson’s AAU coach, Tim Davis, sees some benefit in the trip.
Eighteen-year-old Jackson will be in his twenties entering freshman year at Penn, which Davis sees as a great advantage.
In a conversation with City of Basketball Love, the AAU coach commented on Jackson’s two year break by saying, “You’re getting a 20 or 21-year-old kid instead of an 18-year-old, so mentally, there aren’t as many distractions and their priorities are a little different.”
In addition, despite the two year layoff, Jackson’s skyscraping frame is not going anywhere. At seven-three now, Jackson may even grow a couple more inches come time for his Quaker debut. There is no doubt that he will be one of the tallest college players on the floor when he begins play in 2017, which will always be a great advantage. Even if Jackson were to enter his freshman season forgetful of how to play the game or out of shape, his natural size will be able to create matchup problems for opposing teams and will alter any shots attempted around the rim.
You may not have to look hard to find the seven footer on the hardwood, but you will have to wait. Two years feels like a long period, but only time will tell if Jackson can effectively use his colossal height to the Penn Quakers’ advantage.
Photo courtesy of pennbasketballcamp.com