Willie Jackson is the final inductee in a series of features highlighting the ASUN Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Jackson, a three-time TAAC Player of the Year, left an incredible mark on the conference, program and NCAA at the end of his career with the Centenary College Men's Basketball program, which lasted from 1980-84. He capped his four years as a Gent with 2,535 career points and 1,013 rebounds and remains one of 20 players in NCAA history with 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds alongside all-time greats Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson & David Robinson, among others. Jackson will be inducted alongside Daniel Murphy, Cindy Russo and Bill Bibb at the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on October 17 at the Sawgrass Marriott in Jacksonville, Fla.
Nicknamed "The Legend" by his players as a Centenary assistant coach, Willie Jackson left a lasting imprint with both Centenary and the ASUN Conference. Jackson dominated the hardwood in Shreveport, Louisiana, earning three-straight conference Player of the Year accolades and four First Team All-Conference selections. He remains the only league men's basketball player to accomplish both feats.
A native of the Webster Parish in Louisiana, Jackson attended Sibley High School and guided the team to 100-straight victories during his junior and senior seasons capped by a 58-0 record and state title in 1979-80. A self-described "regular old-country guy," Jackson decided to attend nearby Centenary College to remain close to his mother only two parishes away.
"My time playing and attending Centenary was great," said Jackson. "Being a Louisiana country boy, I decided to stay close to home because my mother was nearby. I wanted her to have a chance to come and see me play and it would also allow me to go home and check on her. Centenary was the perfect fit for me and the academics at the college were very strong."
In a comfortable setting, Jackson wasted little time assimilating to the college game as he finished his freshman season averaging 17.6 PPG and 8.0 RPG to earn his first of four First Team All-Conference nods, as well as the TAAC Newcomer of the Year recognition. The Gents capped Jackson's first season with a 16-12 record and reached the semifinals of the conference championship. For the only time in his collegiate career, he missed out on the conference scoring title trailing Samford's Steve Barker by 0.3 PPG.
The 1981-82 season began Jackson's run of three-straight Player of the Year awards as he averaged 23.8 PPG, which ranked sixth in the nation. He shot 53.8 percent from the floor and added 9.7 rebounds per outing. Jackson showcased his skill set at the TAAC Championship in Louisiana Monroe's Ewing Coliseum, as he averaged 27.6 PPG & 8.6 RPG including a 34-point outburst in the semifinals which then tied the tournament record. His 83 points over the three games set the conference record for points in a three-game tournament, which still stands after 35 seasons.
Jackson continued his reign as the conference's top player over the next two seasons as he led the league in scoring and rebounding in 1982-83 with 24.0 PPG & 9.1 RPG, becoming one of two players to accomplish the feat in conference history.
As a senior, Jackson capped his career with his third Player of the Year honor by unanimous selection and finished the year averaging 23.7 points and grabbing 8.7 rebounds. In his final collegiate contest, he tallied 34 points and 12 rebounds in a double-overtime, one-point loss to Arkansas Little Rock in the TAAC Quarterfinals. He ended his career with 21 30-point games that included a career single-game high of 41. Jackson remains the conference leader in career points, field goals made & attempted as well as Player of the Week selections with eight.
Jackson became the 12th Centenary player selected in the National Basketball Association Draft in 1984 as the Houston Rockets picked him up with a fourth-round pick. However, a loaded frontcourt with Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson prevented Jackson from earning a spot during training camp.
His plethora of basketball accomplishments both at Centenary and Sibley earned him inductions into the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame (1989) and the Centenary Athletics Hall of Fame (1996). He is joined in the Centenary Hall of Fame by his wife Zebber Satcher-Jackson, who starred for the Centenary squad from 1981-83.
"I've remained a very humble guy throughout my career and it's a great feeling to be recognized by your peers, sportswriters and conference for your accomplishments," Jackson said. "There have been so many great players to play the game in the ASUN and to be the first inducted into the Hall of Fame is humbling. I definitely appreciate the acknowledgement from the ASUN. It makes you feel good."
With the conclusion of his playing days, Jackson turned his focus to coaching as he served as an assistant under his former coaches Tommy Canterbury and Tommy Vardeman. On Vardeman's staff for the 1989-90 season, Jackson helped the Gents to their only conference regular season title as Centenary finished with a 14-2 record in league play and 22-8 mark overall.
Jackson continued his coaching career at Louisiana high schools serving as the Head Coach for Loyola College Prep in Shreveport from 2005-12 collecting a program best 118 victories, which included three 20-win seasons, three playoff appearances and a school-record 27 wins in 2007-08. He continued to give back to the game with a stint at Central High School in Grand Cane, La., before moving to his current position as the boys and girls coach at St. Mark's Cathedral School in Shreveport.
"During my years of coaching, I have always told my players that I could never give through basketball what basketball gave to me. The sport has been really good to me and I try to give back as much as possible."
The Legend of the Jackson name lived on at Centenary when his daughter Ashley decided to follow in her parents' footsteps after graduating from Loyola College Prep in 2007. She capped her collegiate career in 2011 as the program's second-highest career scorer and leader in free throws made and games played. Willie's youngest daughter, Alexis, recently graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
Willie Jackson Career Accomplishments
- One of 20 players in NCAA history with 2,500 career points & 1,000 rebounds
- Only player in ASUN history to win three Men's Basketball Player of the Year honors
- Four-Time First Team All-Conference selection; only person in league history to accomplish
- ASUN Career Leader in points by 248 over second place; leads field goals made by 169
- Sits third in conference history for rebounds with 1,013; ranks 14th for steals & 33rd in blocks
- One of two players to lead the league in scoring and rebounding in same season
- Owns three of the top-six single season scoring averages in conference history
- One of six players to be named to three conference all-tournament teams