Everett’s Gio Jackson (2) celebrates drawing a foul in closing seconds of a game against Chemeketa during the NWAC Basketball Tournament at Everett Community College in March. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)

Everett’s Gio Jackson (2) celebrates drawing a foul in closing seconds of a game against Chemeketa during the NWAC Basketball Tournament at Everett Community College in March. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)

He’s Player of the Year: EvCC’s Gio Jackson credits teammates

The sophomore guard is the first Trojan men’s basketball player to earn the Northwest conference honor.

Gio Jackson is the first person to tell you his teammates are the reason for his success on the basketball court.

That was evident when Everett Community College’s men’s basketball coach Mike Trautman broke the news to Jackson that he’d been named 2018 Northwest Athletic Conference North Region MVP, making him the program’s first winner of the award.

“Of course, he didn’t take any of the credit,” Trautman said. “Right there on the spot in practice he thanked all of his teammates and said, ‘This is definitely not me. You all made this happen for me, but my name’s on it. This is you guys doing the work for me.’ He thanked all of them and gave them all hugs right there before practice started.

“That’s kind of where his mindset is at as a person and as a player.”

Jackson added another first for the Trojans this month when he was named the 2018 NWAC Player of the Year.

The EvCC sophomore point guard did a little bit of everything for his team this season as he helped lead the Trojans to the highest win total in program history (26) and a spot in quarterfinal round of the NWAC tournament.

Jackson led the conference in total assists, was 13th in total scoring and, most impressively, was third in total rebounds despite standing just 5-foot-10.

“I averaged like nine rebounds (per game), but (my teammates) were the ones that boxed out,” said Jackson, who also credited his assist numbers to having good shooters around him.

But according to his coach, a lot of the credit actually belongs to Jackson.

“Last offseason … whenever I went to the gym, Gio was in there shooting and Gio was in there in the weight room with our assistant coach,” Trautman said. “Some of the workouts were mandatory, but a lot of them weren’t. A lot of them were just like, ‘Hey Coach, let’s get a workout in today.’ He knew he had to get bigger and stronger, and he knew he had to become better to make it to the next level. … It really paid off.”

As a freshman, Jackson averaged 12.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He shot 45.2 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from 3-point range and 72.1 percent at the foul line.

This past season, those numbers ballooned to 18.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists, and his shooting efficiency followed as he posted a 51.5-percent mark from the field, 36.8 percent from beyond the arc and 81.8 percent at the free-throw line.

Jackson said the added strength helped him be stronger with the ball, finish at the rim and keep his positioning as a defender.

Unlike most college basekball players, Jackson didn’t play much basketball until eighth grade. He quickly excelled on the court and was an All-4A South Puget Sound League Northwest first-team selection his junior and senior years at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way.

He caught Trautman’s eye as a sophomore when Trautman was an assistant coach at EvCC. At the time, Trautman was recruiting Jackson’s teammate and close friend Quadir Williams, who was a senior at the time.

“When you watched him play out there, he was all arms and all legs,” Trautman said of Jackson. “He was so skinny, but man, you could just tell he had it in him.”

Jackson attended numerous Trojan games to watch Williams and another close friend, Derek Brown Jr. In process, he became enamored with the EvCC program.

“Just seeing them play here and seeing they loved it, I knew I’d love it, too,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t have to worry about not being taken care of or anything like that.”

Jackson will continue his basketball career next year at Shawnee State University, an NAIA Division I program in Pourtsmouth, Ohio.

Jackson decided to attend Shawnee State despite having offers from nearby NCAA Divsion II programs Central Washington, Western Washington and Western Oregon.

“I felt comfortable. I felt wanted. I felt like it was just the right place for me,” Jackson said.

It also helped that he spent time on the East Coast when he moved from Tacoma to South Carolina in fifth grade. He moved back to Washington in eighth grade.

“I loved it when I was out there,” he said. “Going back over there is nice.”

Trautman said it’s a good place for Jackson to excel.

“At the NAIA level, he’s gonna be a really nice player,” Trautman said. “… It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s some sort of all-league player there before his senior year was up.”

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