At approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday, Clayton Jackson took to his Facebook page.
He wanted the entire social media universe to know just how resilient and assertive his rising young offspring is, particularly when he appears out of commission.
Said Jackson in a rather intriguing post: “I hate when he’s not feeling well. Off to Dr. Sweeten we go. It amazes me that he’s like dad, if she gives me something to make me feel better, (he’d come back and say) ‘You think you can take me to school so I can play tonight?’ #basketballjunkie”
The “basketball junkie” to whom he’s referring is his son, 11-year-old Caleb Jackson, a rising point guard phenom for Memphis’ KIPP Academy Middle School.
A brilliantly gifted amateur athlete who first began playing competitive basketball in this hoops-crazed city when he was just six years of age, Caleb Jackson has made a strong case that he could very well become a fixture in the coming years, provided he continues to do the essential things to improve his mechanics.
Long before Caleb was allowed to partake in competitive hoops per Tennessee rules, he had shown flashes as a speedy, athletic kid who possesses the skills and mechanics to play against the area’s stiffest of young talent.
Having spent a majority of his competitive hoops tenure playing against older athletes, Caleb wasted little time finding his niche, having steadily evolved into the kind of point guard who was mostly regarded as a floor facilitator as opposed to a floor general who was aiming to pile up on points.
To Caleb’s credit, his basketball IQ, coupled with his attractive team-first persona essentially caught many area recreational coaches by surprise.
No one, it seemed, was as giddy as his pops.
“He’s been playing basketball since he was in the first grade,” Clayton Jackson told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “When I really started to notice that Caleb would be a success in basketball, words can’t explain how excited I was. I was thinking this kid has the opportunity to get an academic scholarship and an athletic one.”
The more Caleb had become acclimated to hoops — sometimes before jam-packed gymnasiums throughout the city — one favorable thing ultimately led to another.
It wasn’t long thereafter that this kid had been thrust into Memphis’ tradition-rich hoops limelight, which has enabled him to demonstrate time and again that he could very well emerge as one of the area’s big name players in the coming years.
At least, his father — whose Facebook page is blanketed by photos of his son in action — certainly thinks so.
“He actually made KIPP’s Middle School team in the fifth grade because their middle school was fifth through seventh at the time,” Clayton Jackson explained. “He couldn’t play because Tennessee rule states that you have to be in the 6th.”
Still, while Caleb was held out of action as a fifth grader, all wasn’t lost for an athletically talent kid who boasts lofty aspirations of playing collegiate basketball someday.
This youngster instead worked intensely on his fundamentals, sticking with the keen strategy of assuming the role as a pass-first point man instead of one who aims to shoot first then pass second.
All of which at times, he points out, caused opposing defenders to disregard him.
“I love when people look over me because it makes me stay in the gym to get better,” Caleb said in assessing his game. “I love when the crowd is screaming because I just made a good pass to one of my teammates or hit a big shot.”
As for the tireless parental support, Caleb acknowledges the presence of his parents is second to none.
“My mom and dad have been really supportive because they come to all my games and I have a lot of them,” he said. “My mom is always telling me to have fun when I’m playing basketball. I love how when I’m not having a good game and I spot my dad in the stands, he’s telling me to play my game that helps me out a lot. My parents and coaches are always telling me to do my best and most of all have fun.”
All while putting on display his finesse, team-first persona in the process.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.