He was the first local player to be named a McDonald's All-American since 2000, and, rated as a five-star recruit signed to play at Duke, he is one of the most coveted players to ever suit up locally. The list of accolades he's received is extensive, and today he's adding another award:
The Tribune has named Jackson the 2016 boys' basketball Player of the Year.
"It means the world," said Jackson, who averaged 28.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game this year. "The state of Utah has been awesome to me. It's a real honor and privilege."
Jackson was gifted with natural ability. Simply the way he walks, almost an effortless glide, it's easy to discern the amount of athleticism pulsating through his veins. However, Jackson doesn't just wake up, stroll into the gym with flip-flops and a Capri Sun, and expect to be great. The combination of pure talent and an unwavering desire to be the best is why Jackson is where he is today.
"I love the game of basketball more than anything," Jackson said. "It's hard at times, but you always have that ultimate goal in your head. I want to make a career out of this, and I know I can't quit. You got to keep going."
In eighth grade, Jackson set his first goal: Make the varsity program at Lehi as a freshman. That summer was "probably the hardest I've ever worked," Jackson confessed. Every morning, six times a week, Jackson hoisted up 700 shots before using an assortment of chairs and cones to replicate 300 game-like shots, from pull-up jumpers to coming off screens — Jackson wanted to be prepared.
In the second-to-last game in his freshman year, Jackson dropped a season-high 30 points against Lone Peak, which eventually was awarded the mythical national championship.
It was evidence the regimen worked. "I've tried to do that continuously throughout my high school career," Jackson said.
Next came the decision to transfer to Lone Peak. He had witnessed the success of the program, and with then-coach Quincy Lewis pumping out college-bound athletes left and right, Jackson felt playing for the Knights was his opportunity to create exposure and win.
"I was willing to sacrifice leaving my friends and coming to this school," Jackson said. "It's definitely paid off."
Jackson studied underneath then-senior T.J. Haws as a sophomore, and the two helped Lone Peak capture its fourth consecutive championship.
But Jackson didn't stop after the season. His life is basketball. This past summer he attended "five, maybe six" camps spread across the nation.
"Every weekend I was gone," Jackson said. "It was tough because I wanted to stay here and play."
Yet he kept the "ultimate goal" in the back of his mind.
"I'm a competitive person," Jackson said. "It's a lot of sacrifice, but at the end of the day it's still fun. I'm playing basketball 24/7. I enjoy it. It's something I love to do, so it's a burning desire to be successful at it."