Gio Jackson does everything a coach could ask from a point guard.
Score? Jackson is second on the Everett Community College men’s basketball team in scoring at 17.6 points per game, capable of filling the hoop both through dribble penetration and with his perimeter shot. Distribute? Jackson’s 6.3 assists not only lead the Trojans, who are the top-ranked team in the Northwest Athletic Conference heading into this week’s NWAC Basketball Championships, they lead the entire league. Play defense? Jackson led the North Region champs with 1.6 steals per contest.
But Jackson also does something most point guards don’t. Jackson rebounds.
Jackson is one of the league’s premier rebounders, ranking fourth in the league in rebounding at 9.4 per game, and he’s done that despite usually being the smallest player on the court.
Jackson is listed on Everett’s roster at 6-foot, but even he acknowledges he’s not really that tall.
“Did we list him at 6 feet?” Everett coach Mike Trautman said with a laugh. “No, he’s 5-10.”
But Jackson’s height hasn’t hindered his rebounding one bit. He’s hit double-digit rebounds 12 times this season, maxing out at 18 in a 100-85 victory at Whatcom on Feb. 7. He’s had three triple-doubles — 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 95-87 loss to Whatcom on Jan. 10; 26 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in an 82-78 victory at Bellevue on Feb. 14; 22 points 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 91-87 victory versus Shoreline on Feb. 28.
So the question is: How does Jackson, at 5-foot-10, get so many rebounds?
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Jackson, a sophomore out of Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way. “It’s just something I do, that I’m good at.”
So good that Jackson is averaging nearly double Everett’s other top rebounders — freshman Cameron Plautz of Stanwood, who’s 6-foot-4, is second on the team in rebounding at 5.9 per game, while sophomore Conner Moffatt, who measures in at 6-foot-3, is third at 5.1 per contest. The three players ahead of Jackson in the league rankings are all 6-foot-4 or taller.
While Jackson may not be able to explain his rebounding acumen, Trautman has some theories.
“No. 1, our team does a really good job of boxing out,” Trautman said. “When he comes in to rebound he usually starts at the top of the key, so he gets a couple steps.
“All natural rebounders — and Dennis Rodman will tell you this — can tell where the ball is going to bounce when the ball is in the air, and I think Gio can do that,” Trautman added. “He can tell it’s going to be short, so he’ll jump to the appropriate spot.
“His timing is really good, he can jump, and his arms are really long,” Trautman continued. “His wingspan is 6-foot-4, so he gets up there with one arm and he’s three or four inches higher than you would think he should be with his body size.”
Jackson’s rebounding fits perfectly into what the Trojans want to do. Everett is a high-paced team that likes to get up and down the court. By being such a strong defensive rebounder Jackson is able to grab the ball and immediately begin the fast break. As a result the Trojans are averaging 90.1 points per game, which ranks fifth in NWAC.
That rebounding ability, combined with Jackson’s other qualities, helped lead the Trojans to a 25-4 record, including a 13-game winning streak heading into the NWAC Championships, which begin Thursday at the Walt Price Fitness Center on Everett’s campus. The women’s round of 16 and quarterfinals are on Thursday and Friday, the men’s round of 16 and quarterfinals are Saturday and Sunday.
“I’ve seen a few players who can do all the things Gio does, but they’ve been 6-5, 6-6 wings,” Trautman said. “What separates Gio from all the other point guards in NWAC is his ability to rebound.”
Jackson, who’s drawing interest from four-year schools at the NCAA Division II and NAIA levels, and the rest of the Trojans are hoping their strong regular season translates into success at the NWAC tournament. Everett, which opens at 8 p.m. Saturday against South Region No. 4 Chemeketa, has never won a men’s basketball championship since NWAC began in 1971.
“I think we have a great chance,” Jackson said. “We’re the No. 1 seed, we’re going in on a 13-game win streak, and our confidence is great.
“Man, it would mean the world to me,” Jackson added about the prospect of bringing a first NWAC title to Everett. “I’ve never won a championship before — I’ve been to state in high school, but we never made it to the championship game. I just know as a community it would mean a lot.”
And as the Trojans attempt to make history, make sure to keep an eye on the little guy clearing the glass for Everett. He’s a big reason why the Trojans are where they are today.
If you have an idea for a community sports story, e-mail Nick Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.