By Ryan Rogers
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Twin Falls, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, don't have much in common. They sit over 1,400 miles apart on the map and, while they are both home to institutions of higher learning, the College of Southern Idaho doesn't run around in the same circles as Baylor University.
However, Baylor basketball guard Pierre Jackson has a special connection to each location. The Las Vegas, Nevada-native has flourished on the basketball court in both the Gem and Lone Star states.
As a kid, Jackson helped his grandmother care for his two younger brothers. It was this responsibility that made a college basketball career seem like a stretch to Jackson.
However, talent was never an issue for the 5-foot, 10-inch guard. Jackson was a three-year letterwinner at Desert Pines High School (Nev.) and earned first-team all-state honors as a senior. During that year, Jackson racked up 736 points, while handing out a state-leading 263 assists.
After his prep career, Jackson went to the College of Southern Idaho where he was able to showcase even more of his abilities. During his freshman year in Idaho, Jackson led the team in both assists per-game (4.6) and steals per-game (1.8), but his season was cut short due to injury.
As a sophomore, he guided the Golden Eagles to their third NJCAA national title with a team-best 18.6 points per game, while also averaging 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists in 36 games. Jackson also ranked eighth nationally among NJCAA Division I players with an 87.2 free-throw percentage. The accolades didn't stop there as Jackson was named the NJCAA Division I Player of the Year after CSI's national title run.
Following the two successful years at the junior college level, Jackson decided to take his talents to Texas to play for Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears.
"I came to Baylor because Coach Drew really showed me that he wanted me to come and play for him and my grandmother also wanted me to come to Baylor," Jackson said.
The next step for Jackson was to adapt to the rigors of life in the Big 12 Conference.
"I think the biggest challenge is adjusting to the size and talent," Jackson said. "Everybody is just as fast and strong and the game moves a lot quicker."
Despite the challenges, Jackson has adjusted rather quickly. In his first game for the Bears against Texas Southern, he had eight points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals in only 25 minutes.
The junior has become a spark off the bench for Drew. Playing in his hometown, Jackson was named the Las Vegas Classic MVP, after he scored a game-winning layup with 29 seconds left against Mississippi State. He also finished with a career-high 23 points in an overtime win against West Virginia at the same event.
Through 16 games, Jackson ranks third on the team with 11.9 points per game, while dishing out a team-best 4.9 assists in 26.6 minutes off the bench. Jackson has teamed up with junior A.J. Walton to form one of the nation's best two-guard combos, guiding the Bears to a No. 4 national ranking and a perfect 16-0 record.
The College of Southern Idaho may be a long way from Waco, Texas, but over the past three plus years Pierre Jackson has been right at home in either location. Now, he is working to help the Bears to their first Big 12 title and a deep NCAA run.