Basketball: Jackson's action making waves in America

By Kris Shannon

Cedric Jackson. Photo / Getty Images.
Cedric Jackson. Photo / Getty Images.

Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis described Cedric Jackson's efforts against Cairns as a "quiet 32 points" - but would his recent feats have created any noise in the loudest of basketball landscapes?

Jackson keeps finding new ways to amaze, following his triple-double from a fortnight ago with a career-high tally in last night's 21-point win which ensured the Breakers a share of first place heading into the All-Star break.

It is abundantly clear Jackson is too good for the Australian NBL, but whether he is good enough for the NBA remains open to debate.

He may be one of those unfortunate athletes stuck in something of a sporting purgatory - his abilities trapping him between his current realm and the higher level to which he aspires.

There are no shortage of people who think Jackson will soon ascend, though.

Dillon Boucher, who celebrated his 200th Breakers game against Cairns, has played against some of the world's best players while on Tall Blacks duty and he was unequivocal in his belief Jackson had the capability to turn his American dream into reality.

"He's better than some of the NBA guys I've played against," Boucher said. "If you put him out there in an NBA team now he wouldn't look out of place at all.

"There's no doubt, we all know he's good enough to play in the NBA, but it's just about whether his opportunity comes or not."

Jackson's opportunity, or lack thereof, is certainly impacted by his current location. The Australian league is hardly a stepping stone to the States - Patty Mills recently made that leap but he was in Australia only due to the NBA lockout - and there is some question over the weight of Jackson's performances against teams like Cairns.

"I think we probably underestimate how good he is because he's playing in this league," Boucher said. "[It depends on] whether a team's willing to take an opportunity on a guy that's playing in the Australian league."

American basketball writer Ken Berger, who covers the NBA for CBSSports.com, wrote on Twitter earlier in the week about Jackson's triple double against former NBA draft pick Jonny Flynn, sparking a flurry of excitement among some New Zealand media.

While Berger's tweet is hardly a precursor to an NBA deal, it does show Jackson is not completely off the radar while playing down under. Lemanis confirmed as much, recalling a recent conversation with fellow Australian Brett Brown, the assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs.

"[Brown] said, 'It's a global game now. If you're any good, we will know about you. Don't you worry about that'," Lemanis said.

"There are scouts everywhere and they actually like the foreign leagues and they pay good attention to the foreign leagues and what's going on. So performances in this league count.

" It's good that's [Jackson] is getting some attention. The best thing to do is just keep playing well, keep helping his team win and that's going to continue to have him on the radar and give him his best shot of making the NBA."

A mid-season move to America is unlikely, a good thing for the Breakers' three-peat prospects, but fans should appreciate the privilege of watching Jackson play while they can.

Even if the NBA remains out of reach, this surely must be Jackson's last year on the North Shore. He's reaching the peak of his powers and, be it America, Europe or Asia, the big fish will have to leave the small pond if he wishes to keep growing.

- APNZ

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