A steady leader at the guard position from 1982-86, Michael Jackson was a consummate team player among the greatest Georgetown teams in school history.
Jackson was that rare guard who could play the point or shooting guard with equal skill. Following in the footsteps of Eric Floyd, Jackson was a starter from his first game on the team, shooting 46% from the field and a deadly 82% from the foul line in his debt season. Jackson was never intended to the main scoring option and in many cases, might have only been the fourth choice in the scoring rotation behind Patrick Ewing, Bill Martin, and David Wingate.
When called upon, Jackson was a significant offensive weapon. His 31 point effort against Syracuse stunned a sold out Carrier Dome crowd of over 31,000, as the freshman guard went 9 for 13 from the field and 13 for 15 from the line to pace the Hoyas to the win over the #9-ranked Orangemen. Jackson followed it up with 21 points in a win over Boston College, leading the team in scoring in five games and finishing with a 14.1 point average in conference play, second to Patrick Ewing.
A shoulder injury in the off-season cost Jackson the first five games of the regular season, and he didn't start consistently until January. By conference play, he soon returned to the form that distinguished his first year of play, and it was Jackson's steady hand on the Hoya offense that allowed it to dominate the 1983-84 Big East season. Jackson shot 56 percent from the field for a 10.5 point per game average, with 137 assists to lead the team, and played a major role in three of the biggest games of the season.
In the 1984 Big East final, Jackson went 8 for 8 from the line and scored 20 points, with free throws that proved vital to send the game into overtime for the win. A week later, with the first round NCAA game with SMU tied with eight seconds remaining, Jackson made the free throw that was called by many the winning point in GU's narrow NCAA win. Well, not exactly--his second free throw missed and was tipped in by Ewing, whereupon SMU hit a basket at the buzzer to close the margin to one, 37-36. In either case, without that foul shot (or the tip-in) there might not have even been a
Final Four to remember.
Two weeks later, there was a Final Four, and there was no question Jackson came up big. With Patrick Ewing in foul trouble and Reggie Williams shooting 1 for 7 for the day, Jackson led the Hoyas with 12 points and a career high 10 rebounds against a favored Kentucky team in the NCAA semifinal. Two days later, he scored 11 points in the championship final against Houston, but his six assists proved even more important, setting up a pair of late game baskets by Patrick Ewing and Michael Graham which proved to be decisive.
Jackson's assist total of the first two seasons were nothing compared to his 1984-85 season, which shattered the school record with 242. Jackson's scoring totals were reduced accordingly, but not his ability to get the ball to the right player at the right time. During the 1985 NCAA tournament, he averaged a remarkable nine assists per game.
For his senior season, Jackson continued the quiet confidence which had made him so valuable over the prior three. A 50 percent shooter from the field, 81 percent from the foul line, and a 200 assist season were Jackson's numbers, but they do not tell the ability to which his on-court leadership led the team forward. In his final ten games of the 1986 regular season, Jackson averaged 11 points and 6.4 assists a game, hitting an amazing 30 for 30 from the line in helping the Hoyas win seven of its final 10, with the three losses coming by a total of only five points. Unfortunately, one of Jackson's poorer efforts ended his career in the second round of the 1986 NCAA tournament, where Michigan State's Scott Skiles hit for 24 in an 80-68 upset and Jackson finished 1 for 7, but still contributed nine of the team's 17 assists.
With so many Georgetown stars of this period, Jackson never got the recognition he probably deserved, named three times to the third team All-Big East team but no higher. "Michael was one of the best kept secrets we had around here," Coach John Thompson said. "I don't believe I ever gave him enough credit or praise."
"He was a phenomenal scorer,” said Wendell Jett, his former high school coach, in a 2006 article. “You only saw a glimpse of it in college because they had Ewing and Wingate."
Others took note as well. The late Ralph Wiley once wrote of Jackson: "Engaging personality, fun, full of life, impossible to back down or intimidate. Laughed at your intimidation...If he'd been a Redskin instead of a Hoya, he'd be mayor by
Michael Jackson was not only an exceptional athlete but an exceptional student as well. Named as the 1986 recipient of the prestigious Robert A. Duffey Scholar-Athlete Award, he was the first awardee from men's basketball since Paul Tagliabue in 1962. Jackson graduated with a degree in government in 1986, and left the court as as the school's all time leader in assists, sixth in steals, and eleventh in scoring.
Accepted to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1986, Jackson began a three year NBA career in 1987 with the the Sacramento Kings. Following the NBA, Jackson assumed management positions with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Turner Sports, and served as the president of Yankees-Nets, a media partnership between two of New York's major pro franchises.
Michael Jackson is now a small business owner in Asheville, NC.