Kourtlin Jackson was one of the big steals in the offseason for Doc Sadler and the Golden Eagles. Jackson is a former Iowa State walk- on, who transferred from the Cyclones in the offseason to reunite with Sadler.
Coming from Iowa to Mississippi has been a culture shock for Jackson, who has been steadily trying to transition.
“It’s been a big transition,” Jackson said. “From Iowa State, I knew a lot of people and I knew the area. It’s where I got my undergrad. But here I’m more interested in my masters and I love the team. I’m only here for a year but they treat (me) as if I’ve been here as long as Norville (Carey) has been here.”
Sadler and Jackson were coach-and-player during the 2013-14 season, when Sadler was an assistant coach at Iowa State. Sadler and Jackson enjoy a unique coach-player relationship, which is why Sadler reached out to Jackson to come to USM.
“He brings a unique fight to him,” Jackson said. “You see the fight in his eyes and it makes you want to go to battle with him. That’s what I saw in him at Iowa State and that’s why I’m here now.”
Unfortunately, the Golden Eagles will only have his services for the 2015-16 season. While the Golden Eagles have him, they should take full advantage of his versatile skill set.
“I feel like I can lead this team a little bit and show them how to give their all,” Jackson said. “I feel like I can help offensively and defensively, offensive rebounding—just playing hard really.”
While Jackson feels like he can help lead the team, he does not think it will be vocally.
“I’m not much of a vocal leader,” Jackson said. “I kind of lead by example. I’m working on being a more vocal leader, but I want to be that guy that shows the effort instead of speaking and talking and all that.”
Normally Jackson would have to learn quickly, transitioning from one system to another, but he says that is not the case. A lot of Sadler’s plays were very similar to the ones that he ran at Iowa State.
“We ran so many plays at Iowa State; it was ridiculous,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of (similar) sets here at Southern Miss, so I remember all the plays basically. It’s pretty easy to transition on that.”
Jackson will be a big help in bringing some cohesiveness to the Golden Eagles. His knowledge of Sadler’s system will prove invaluable. Jackson said he expects things to be a lot better at USM now that the Golden Eagles will roster more than seven players.
“I feel like we’re really going to shock this league,” Jackson said. “We’re the underdog right now, and people don’t expect us to do much. But we have a good group of guys that can compete and do really well in this league.”
The Golden Eagles will not bring a lot of experience back, but Jackson’s experience in one of the more competitive conferences will pay dividends for the Golden Eagles in the long run.