Found your message board, and I'm excited to be a new member! I am a coach with the Illinois Stars, and also the head of recruiting, so each and every time one of our student athletes commits to a program, I go out to various sites, such as these, and tell the fans what they are getting. With that being said, I will go over who the Illinois Stars are, more on Tyler's skillset, Tyler Jackson as an individual, and what his recruitment was like. If you have any questions, I'll be answering them on here, and also will give you my Twitter account and email address, for those who want to just email directly.
Illinois Stars - What Makes Us Different
The Illinois Stars are a Reebok-sponsored AAU team that definitely did things differently from other programs, while still having results that were even better than our peers in our state. Want to go over some of the unique things that we focused on for our 2015 class:
We had a major focus on getting players that will play for us what they will play for college. If we had a 6'5" player, we weren't putting him in the post, rather he would be playing a wing. We wanted to show the college coach how they would perform at a given position. For example, Brandon Hutton was playing with the Mac Irvin Fire, and EYBL team, and due to his athleticism and strength, he played their post, even though he was only 6'5". We took Brandon, and showed his strength, which was his defense, and had him guard every point guard we faced. While doing that, we had him play the wing on offense, but let his defense do the talking...which made him one of the most recruited players two summers ago in the country.
We ran multiple offenses, however we always spread it out, allowing our players to make "basketball plays". For example, for our motion we played 4-out, 1-in. This shows the abilities of our wings to break down a defense, read the defense, create their own shots, etc. It allowed our power forwards to play a ton of pick-and-roll, spot up from the outside, etc. And it allowed for a ton of 1-on-1 defense against our centers, Tyler Jackson and Christian Romine (UTEP).
We had grade requirements. Just because it's AAU doesn't mean you can snooze. If you didn't make the grades, you were suspended, or out. We ended up kicking two players out, one of which committed to a D1 school, because of poor grades. Our kids need to learn now, versus in college, the importance of staying eligible.
To prepare our kids for the future, we spent thousands on things such as media training. Each and every one of our student athletes had to take a media training course, and they learned how to talk to adults, fans, in front of a crowd, how to answer questions, how to not answer a question, etc. Our belief is that we want to give a college a finished product when it comes to things off the court, so that the coaches can focus on stuff on the court.
We were successful in what we did, as we had eight 2015 recruits, and seven of them have committed to D1 schools. We have Aaron Jordan (Illinois), Brandon Hutton (Iowa), Christian Romine (UTEP), Karl Harris (LaSalle), Andre Statam (Jacksonville State), Cole Gentry (South Dakota State), and now Tyler Jackson.
Tyler Jackson - What's His Skillset
So many of you have been discussing "how big is he really?" Let me give you this...he's HUGE. I personally have done his measurements, and he is "officially" 7'2", 285lbs, he has a 9'3" standing reach, and has a 22" vertical leap. His upper body looks that of David Robinson...he's sculped, and definitely looks older than his years. And he is not injury prone. Tyler had his knee drained ONCE, and that was because of pushing himself when he should have taken a week off. Outside of that knee, Tyler has been 100% healthy throughout his career.
Tyler has many strengths, and the best one is his basketball IQ. Many times a center will get the ball and assume he has the ball, so he needs to score. Tyler is not a black hole in the post, and understands the ideas of passing it back out, as well as reposting, which is a lost art. When playing with the Illinois Stars, Tyler saw the court extremely well, and was able to get the ball to our cutters, as well as our open shooters. Tyler has advanced footwork for his size, and really has a "feel" from around the block. Many kids these days are faceup type of centers, where Tyler is very comfortable with his back to the basket. With Tyler's size, he sets a very good pick, and is even capable of popping and hitting a shot from 15 feet away. Defensively he's able to alter a ton of shots with his size, and at times is very vocal to the defense (which is huge, because your post should be like a middle linebacker).
No kid is perfect, and every kid needs to work on things. Tyler is working hard on his mobility, since being 7'2" has it's disadvantages, especially when defending the pick and roll. Tyler is also working on his explosiveness, namely on his second hop.
What UCSB is getting is not a Shaq or David Robinson, but rather a Roy Hibbert. He's extremely skilled for his size.
Tyler Jackson - The Young Man
Tyler Jackson is even a greater young man when you get to know him. He's an extremely smart kid who is really artistic, and has a great sense of humor. I've been fortunate to have known the Jacksons for years, being extremely close with his father, Darrell. He comes from an outstanding family who values education and hard work above all else. His father is a CEO of a Chicago-based bank, and his mother is an ex-eye surgeon who is now a consultant. So you can imagine the focus Tyler has on education and hard work.
I want to end with this. Most young men his size play basketball because they are huge, because it can get them something, etc. Tyler loves the game. Tyler will come back from a 3-hour AAU practice, then work out with another trainer, and then do yoga to strength his body and make it more limber....and he doesn't complain once. He wants to get better...and that's what can make a great player!
More On Tyler's Recruitment
Education and fit were the two biggest factors when looking for the best program for Tyler. Which school will give him the brightest future, and does the system/conference compliment a 7'2" center with Tyler's skillset? Tyler was getting interest and/or offers from Jacksonville, American, Liberty, Hampton, North Texas, Charlotte, and Fairfield. So how did UCSB come about?
Last summer we were going to Anaheim for the Pump Brother's tournament, and one of our players, Karl Harris (LaSalle) was very interested in playin in California. I contacted Coach Bromley and told him about our squad and about Karl. He watched our team, and when we talked the next time on the phone, 5 minutes was about Karl, and 45 minutes was about Tyler. He absolutely loved him, and saw him as someone that can turn into a special player in the conference. The problem was...UCSB didn't have a scholarship for a 2015 big. With that being said, Tyler will be a preferred walk-on for his first year, and thereafter be a scholarship player.
UCSB 100% fulfilled everything the family wanted - great academics, a system that can utilize Tyler, a great location, and coaches that believe in him. We are excited!
Follow or Questions
You can follow me on twitter @CoachCiepierski, and you can ask any question on here, or through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Excited for you guys, and excited for Tyler! He won't let you down!