The Pitt basketball program had been built on strong, experienced players that could defend. After an extremely disappointing season in 2011-12, Jamie Dixon and his staff are already out on the road determined to turn this around for next season. After adding a versatile, young guard in Chris Jones, Dixon is in hot pursuit of a junior college transfer to further solidify the back court, and his search has led him south to Niceville (Fla.) Northwest Florida State College guard Trency Jackson.
Jackson, 6'2" 193, surprised some people by originally committed to Southern Miss out of high school. The Mississippi native was first-team all state and had a highly productive career. But after enrolling at Southern Miss, he learned that the Clearinghouse deemed him ineligible.
After the disappointing news, Jackson decided to take a redshirt season and transfer to Northwest Florida State College. The Pan-Am conference is considered one of the strongest junior college leagues in the country, and Jackson has shown that he is capable of playing at the high major level.
"Right now, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Marquette, Cincinnati, Oregon, and Colorado are the ones I can think of. They have all offered. Pitt started recruiting me a couple of months ago."
Northwest Florida State is loaded with talent and is 28-1. The Raiders will play in the championship game on March 10th. Jackson shares the back court with Chris Jones, a standout point guard.
"I handled the point in high school. We have a great point guard in Chris Jones so I play off of the ball at the two. I am a combo-guard. I can knock down threes and attack the rim. I am left-handed. I am very athletic and I love to finish above the rim. It also helps me defensively, as I am a great on-ball defender. I love the challenge of playing defense and shutting guys down."
That skill set is what has the Pitt staff so intrigued. The program will lose its leading scorer in Ashton Gibbs and the returning back court personnel has struggled. Jackson is well aware of that, as well as how much of a priority he is for Pitt.
"Coach Dixon is recruiting me real hard. He has been down here several times just recently. He calls me each week and I will call him here and there. He told me that they needed me more than they wanted me. He wants me to come in and play the two spot after Ashton. He just likes my game and has made me feel wanted.
"I know that there is an open spot there with Ashton leaving so it is definitely something I think about."
Jackson has only played one season at Northwest Florida State, meaning that he is cleared to play next season and will have three years of eligibility at whatever program he decides on. At this point, Jackson is focused on winning it all and will take his visits after the season. One thing he does know at this point is who will get his first visit.
"After the season, I will take my visits and then decide. I will be visiting Pitt, Purdue, and Cincinnati for sure. I will be visiting Pitt first.
"I am just looking for a coach that will constantly be coaching me and helping me develop as a player. Just let me play my game and do what I do. I think Coach Dixon is that kind of coach. I have always been a fan of Pitt and will be looking at them very seriously."