Jackson scores and scores — and waits

clangrill@idahostatesman.com © 2014 Idaho StatesmanFebruary 6, 2014 

Idaho guard Pierre Jackson has averaged 40.3 points per game in three contests against the Texas Legends this season.

"If (he) can't get a call-up with 58 points, then why are any of those dudes showing up for work?" - BOMANI JONES, a panelist speaking on Wednesday's edition of ESPN's "Around the Horn"

Idaho Stampede guard Pierre Jackson sits atop the NBA Development League's list of NBA prospects.

The Baylor product leads the league in scoring at 30.2 points per game.

On Tuesday, Jackson scored 58 points in Idaho's 136-122 win over Texas at CenturyLink Arena. That was the highest output for any player in the 13-year history of the D-League.

Add it all up, and the question everyone is asking is simple: When will Jackson get his NBA call-up?

"I don't know what more you can do," Stampede coach Michael Peck said. "He has showed as a guard that he can score. And the game before, he didn't score as much, but he dished out 18 assists."

If it were solely a basketball decision, Peck believes Jackson would have already gotten a look from an NBA team. But Jackson's situation is more complicated than most D-League players.

Jackson was selected by the 76ers in June's NBA Draft. His rights were traded to the Pelicans, but he never signed with New Orleans. After a short stint in France, he returned to the U.S. and was drafted by the Stampede.

His draft rights remain with the Pelicans, and New Orleans is the only team that can call him up. Jackson's agent has been given permission to seek a trade, but so far nothing has materialized.

"I just play basketball and let them handle the other stuff," Jackson said.

Jackson is listed at 5-foot-11, 176 pounds, not the body type that takes most athletes to the NBA. But while he lacks size, he certainly doesn't lack speed and quickness. And intelligence.

"He's got a high IQ for the game," Peck said. "He knows what we're doing in terms of the schemes and the systems."

He showed Tuesday night, once again, that he can take over a game. He finished 24-of-33 from the field and 7-of-13 from 3-point range. He scored 17 straight points for Idaho in a span of 2 minutes, 15 seconds, and he compiled 27 points in the fourth quarter.

"He's very efficient," Stampede forward Jason Ellis said. "When he scores big like that, he's usually 50 percent from the field."

But as Peck pointed out, Jackson is not a one-dimensional scorer. After beginning his college career at the College of Southern Idaho, Jackson played two seasons at Baylor, where he finished with the third-most assists (478) in school history. He helped lead the Bears to the Elite Eight as a junior.

"My role is different than it was last year," Jackson said. "Last year, my role was a point guard, and I had to facilitate. This year, my role is to score more."

And while he's doing that better than anyone else in the D-League, he tries not to get too impatient waiting for that call from an NBA team.

"I think about it every now and then," Jackson said. "I look on social media and people are upset about the situation for me. … I'm playing for the Idaho Stampede right now, and that's my main focus, winning games. If we are winning games, everybody on the team looks better."

Jackson has addressed the question enough that he knows how to be diplomatic with his answer. But ask him one more question, and he becomes rather emphatic.

Does he have any doubt that he can compete at the NBA level?

"I have no doubt at all, whatsoever," Jackson said, emphasizing each word. "If you're going to ask anybody about doubting my game, it's not going to be me. … I think I belong there.

"I'm just waiting on it, man."

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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