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Nazareth hits big time with Jackson

01/22/2013, 5:33pm CST
By George M. Wilcox gwilcox@pioneerlocal.com

Tyler Jackson’s had to overcome injuries and other struggles during his time at Nazareth, but it seems as if it is all coming together. The sophomore is averaging 13 points per game for a struggling Nazareth team.


01/19/2013 LaGrange Park Nazareth Academy sophomore Tyler Jackson (50) puts up a shot down low during the home game against St. Viator on Saturday

Tyler Jackson gets his height from his mother’s side of the family.

If there is ever a family reunion, Jackson is guaranteed to be the tallest member, but not by much. He has uncles who are 6-foot-5 and 6-8. His mother Valencia stands 6-foot. Even Jackson’s father Darrell is 6-2.

Jackson is 7-feet tall and is believed to be the tallest basketball player in the history of Nazareth. At the Proviso West Holiday tournament last month, the 275-pound Jackson became the third 7-footer to play there.

Tyler has grown one inch since he started attending Nazareth last year. Roadrunners coach John N. Bonk actually remembers when Jackson was 6-9 entering eighth grade.

The sophomore is one of three Naperville residents on the Roadrunners (9-8, 1-3 East Suburban Catholic), who ended a four-game losing streak with a 76-63 victory over Brooks Monday at the MLK Dream Classic at Young in Chicago.

“He has a big body,” Bonk said. “There is concern for his knee. He tweeked the knee and that has slowed him down.”

Wheaton North features 6-11 senior Andrew Zelis, a Stetson recruit. But at 220 pounds, Zelis is far more slender than Jackson.

Jackson scored 14 points in an 86-81 loss to St. Viator Friday. It was one of his biggest outputs since he dropped in 19 points to open the Proviso West tourney against New Trier Dec. 22.

The injury to his left knee has prevented Jackson from being the dominant force expected of many high school players with his size. Jackson has missed practices to see his doctor and sat out two games, both at Proviso West. Jackson is averaging nearly 13 points.

“My knee is day-to-day,” Jackson said. “One day I feel great. One day (it’s hurting). Lately, it’s been more positive than negative. I have to stretch it, ice it and massage.”

Jackson lives within Naperville Central’s boundary, but looked at attending Benet and Nazareth.

“Nazareth was the right one,” Jackson said. “I went to an eighth-grade (night) and liked it. It’s a good fit.”

He was a club teammate on Illinois Celtics AAU with Nazareth sophomore guard Alex Edwards, who also lives in Naperville. They went to separate junior highs — Edwards to Crone and Jackson to Kennedy in Lisle. The other Nazareth player from Naperville is 6-7 senior starter Tim Kuckailis, the second tallest player on the team.~.

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