Three years ago, during Reggie Jackson's senior season at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, a legendary opposing coach deemed him the best high school basketball player in state history.
“He's the best at this point,” said Dan McKiernan, a Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee who was in his 46th season at the time.
That would make Jackson better than guard Micheal Ray Richardson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 1978 draft; better than center Joe Barry Carroll, the No. 1 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft; and better than point guard Chauncey Billups, the No. 3 pick in the 1997 draft.
“We were undefeated and played Chauncey Billups' (George Washington High School) team three times,” McKiernan told The Denver Post in 2008. “At this point, Reggie's tougher. There's no doubt in my mind. Chauncey wasn't as explosive. Chauncey dished it. Not that Reggie is selfish, but he takes over a game.”
Thunder general manager Sam Presti first contacted coach Steve Donahue several years ago while he was in the process of building Cornell into an Ivy League power, going 72-21 with three NCAA Tournaments his final three seasons there, including a 2010 Sweet 16 appearance.
When he became Jackson's coach at Boston College in April of 2010, Donahue moved to the same town where Presti attended Emerson College. It added yet another branch to Presti's Beantown connection that includes the 2007 trade with the Boston Celtics involving Ray Allen, plus the Feb. 24 trade to obtain Celtics center Kendrick Perkins.
Presti is very complimentary of Donahue's work, and vice versa. Presti said knowing Donahue was extremely valuable in the evaluation process of Jackson.
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