The Wolverine

April 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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APRIL 2019 THE WOLVERINE 59 BY CHRIS BALAS B oth of Michigan's class of 2019 signees were eliminated from their respective state playoffs in March, leaving class of 2020 commit- ment Zeb Jackson as the last future Wolverine standing. Toledo (Ohio) Maumee Valley Coun- try Day's Jackson (6-3,'s No. 66 junior nationally) strung three very good games together to lead his team into the Ohio Division IV Region 14 final March 15 in Bowling Green, Ohio, where it fell 66-49 to Convoy (Ohio) Crestview. He scored a team-high 25 points in that game, with 15 coming in the final eight min- utes before his team's season came to an end. Jackson — who was named Ohio's Division IV Player of the Year after averaging 24.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game — first led his team to a 94-76 win over Syca- more (Ohio) Mohawk to keep the season alive in a district semifinal March 5. He started the game by scoring 13 straight points for the Hawks, including a steal and a slam, on his way to 25 points despite re- portedly being consistently double and triple teamed. Jackson then scored 14 points to lead Country Day to a 61-53 victory against Toledo (Ohio) Christian in a Division IV district final March 8. He made four triples in the win, proving he can shoot the ball with one of a number of his multiple-triple games this year. He then contributed 25 points to help beat Columbus (Ohio) Grove 58-48 March 11 in a regional semifi- nal at Bowling Green, Ohio, improv- ing the Hawks to 19-7. Jackson didn't shoot the ball extremely well against Grove, but he got to the basket at will. "I thought I played pretty well, but I know I can do better," Jackson said. "My teammates helped me out a lot tonight. They trusted me, and that helps my confidence so much. "I felt like I stepped up for them down the stretch." Jackson started the fourth quar- ter with a triple and a jumper, and scored over half (13) of Maumee Val- ley Country Day's 24 fourth-quarter points. "We give Zeb a lot of freedom be- cause we really trust him," Country Day head coach Rob Conover said. "We just try to get him into schemes where he can make decisions. We talk specifically about making the right reads. He's not going to make all of the right reads. There are shots that he takes sometimes where I go a little crazy, but he's learning. "There's no doubt in my mind that he makes more right reads. If you look at that balance it completely swings toward the right reads. It just comes down to we trust him." That is a direct result of the time and effort he puts into improving his game. "I watch him work at his game. I've seen some great kids come through, and his work ethic is some- thing that I've never seen before," Conover said. "When you see that happen right in front of your eyes, you tend to trust the way he plays. "He has a very high IQ for the game of basketball. He knows what works and what doesn't. We really just let him be who he is best." Jackson has always trusted his skills, but he's continued to work on his leadership. He took that to an- other level this season. "Communication and playing faster and more downhill are the el- ements I've felt like my game has grown the most this season," he said. "I've been trying to get myself ready for the speed of the college game." He still has a year to work on it and needs to add weight to his slender 165-pound frame. He's just scratch- ing the surface of his potential, Conover insisted. "There's no doubt that he's going to be great at Michigan," Conover said. "Teams really scheme hard to slow Zeb down with double teams, triple teams, face guarding — he's seen it all. For him to still put up the numbers and do what he does against all of that is pretty special. "I think that's going to make him more ready for Michigan than if he were at a bigger school where maybe the attention wasn't all on him." Though he can't sign until Novem- ber, Jackson knows he made the right decision and is elated with it. "The family feeling of the coach- ing staff and the players is actually why I committed to Michigan in the first place," he said. "I could just tell when I was on campus that it was where I wanted to go. "I've been so happy ever since I pledged there." In Washington, defending Class 1A state champion Lynden Christian, led by U-M signee Cole Bajema (6-7, 175,'s No. 92 senior nation- ally), bowed out of the playoffs in a stunning 73-50 loss to rivals Seattle King's Schools. The loss snapped Christian's 31-game win streak.   BASKETBALL RECRUITING One Future Wolverine Still Standing In Postseason Play U-M commit Zeb Jackson of Toledo (Ohio) Maumee Valley Country Day —'s No. 66 junior nationally — was tabbed as the Ohio Division IV Player of the Year after averaging 24.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. PHOTO BY JORDAN WELLS

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