Pierre Jackson scored an NBA Development League-record 58 points while playing for the Idaho Stampede on Feb. 4, 2014.
Jackson will be remembered for that accomplishment throughout his professional basketball career.
But it’s not enough to satisfy Jackson. He wants more. He wants his shot at the NBA.
And not once, but twice, he was oh-so-close to achieving that dream. Both times, an injury derailed the dream.
A quick scroll through Internet headlines sums up the story.
“Sixers sign Pierre Jackson” reads one. “Pierre Jackson shaping up as Philadelphia’s starting point guard in 2015-16” reads another.
But then there are these: “76ers guard Pierre Jackson injures Achilles” and “Pierre Jackson cut again.”
The second time Jackson was released by the 76ers was prior to this season, when a strained groin slowed the 5-foot-10 point guard who is known for his burst and speed.
“Obviously, I wish the injuries never happened, but they’ve kind of helped me in my mindset and being strong-minded and knowing I’m going to get through it and get back to my ultimate goal,” Jackson said.
In the meantime, he’s back in a Stampede uniform. He’ll play his sixth game with Idaho this season at 3 p.m. Sunday, when the Stampede host the Texas Legends.
After rehabbing his groin injury at home for a few months, he’s trying to get back in game shape.
“I think he’s here just for him to personally see where his body is at,” Idaho coach Dean Cooper said.
Jackson has gradually played more and more minutes.
“I’m mindful of his workload, because I don’t want him to get hurt again,” Cooper said. “He and I have talked about the process, so it’s not like he’s going, ‘Coach, get me out there.’ He wants to show that he can play at that level again, but he gets it and he doesn’t want to get hurt.”
Jackson is certainly starting to look like his old self.
In a win at Santa Cruz on Wednesday, Jackson had 16 points and a game-high nine assists.
“I thought he looked really good,” Cooper said. “He made a couple of really big shots, which is what Pierre does. He basically sealed the game for us.”
On Saturday, Jackson had 14 points and four rebounds in a 108-101 loss to Texas at CenturyLink Arena. He was one of six Idaho players in double figures.
Cooper likes the idea of pairing a healthy Jackson alongside fellow point guard Phil Pressey.
“We’ve got two guys who can push the pace,” Pressey said. “It’s going to take him some time … but you can see he’s steadily getting better and better.”
Jackson is certainly determined to get better — and put the injuries behind him.
“It just depends on your mindset and staying positive,” said Jackson, who led the College of Southern Idaho to a national championship before transferring to Baylor and leading the Bears to the Elite Eight. “Throughout my whole life there have been setbacks, so I just look at everything positive and know I’m going to get through it,” he said.
Plus, he has some added incentive these days to succeed: 14-month-old Journee Jackson.
“I’ve got a daughter now, so I can’t be mad and sad about everything,” Jackson said. “I’ve got to suck it up.”
Cooper, for one, has little doubt that Jackson will do just that. And the healthier Jackson gets, the more the Stampede will benefit.
“He scored those 58 points, so if you don’t really know who Pierre Jackson is you think he’s just a scorer,” Cooper said. “But he’s not. He’s a guy who can pass the basketball.”
Case in point: Jackson dished out 18 assists three days prior to his 58-point night in 2014.
If Jackson can get back to posting numbers like that again, he’ll be well on his way to making his dreams come true.
“I think as the season goes on, I’m going to get back to being the same player,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be fun.”
NOTES: Forward Jeff Ayres, the first overall pick in the 2015 D-League draft, was signed to a 10-day contract by the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Ayres has played 23 games with Idaho this season, averaging 16.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. It was Idaho’s fourth call-up of the season. … Idaho acquired forward Mychal Ammons and center Ian Chiles, pushing the roster to 11 players. Ammons, a 6-6, 225-pound South Alabama product, attended training camp this season with Idaho before being waived Nov. 11. Chiles, a 7-2, 260-pound Morgan State product, appeared in one game with the Oklahoma City Blue this season.
Who: Texas at Idaho
When: 3 p.m. at CenturyLink Arena. The game is the second of two Sunday home games on the Stampede schedule this season.
Radio/TV: 630 AM/Cable One channel 72
Up next: Idaho finishes out a three-game homestand Tuesday, when it hosts the Reno Bighorns at 7 p.m.