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February 18, 2013

Jackson scores McDonald's invite

Demetrius Jackson paused for just a moment last week to consider the latest accolade.

Once the season is complete Jackson can take a little bit more time to revel in being named a McDonald’s All-American, still the most prestigious accolade a prep basketball player can receive. A day after learning of his spot in the all-star game the future Notre Dame point guard signee faced perhaps the most anticipated game on his schedule this season.

Marian High hit the road Friday for crosstown rival Penn, a program home to former AAU and future Irish teammate Austin Torres.

Torres blocked Jackson in the opening minutes, scored 18 points and hauled in 12 rebounds en route to a 60-56 victory, clinching a conference championship. Jackson scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

“I’m happy I’ll be on the same team as him the way he’s blocking shots and stuff,” Jackson said. “But at the same time right now this is my team. I just wanted to win the game for my team and for the Marian community.”

Once the season ends - Marian has one more regular season game before the playoffs begin - Jackson will begin representing the school and local community on a bigger stage, starting with the McDonald’s game in early April. The game will be played at the United Center in Chicago.

Jackson landed on the East team along with two other point guards: N.C. State signee Cat Barber and Florida signee Kasey Hill. Consensus top prospect Andrew Wiggins will also suit up for the East.

Not since Shawn Kemp in 1988 has Northern Indiana had a player make the roster.

“It’s almost fictional,” said Jackson, who is averaging about 28 points per game for Marian this season. “It feels surreal and it’s just a blessing to have my name on that list. As you can see, I’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Adding Jackson to the list, 16 players have matriculated to Notre Dame after being named to the McDonald’s game. Chris Thomas (2001), Torin Francis (2002) and Luke Zeller (2005) are the most recent. All played for head coach Mike Brey.

Jackson will play at the United Center on April 3, then prepare for another elite event. He has also been named to the USA roster for the NIKE Hoop Summit in Portland, scheduled for April 20 at the Rose Garden.

Landing in such games has motivated the 6-foot-1 guard to prove he belongs.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “It’s almost like I don’t deserve it. I’m gonna keep working so I can deserve it. I’m gonna keep working every day on everything because I need to improve everything. I’m gonna keep working.”

But before any of that gets started Jackson hopes to extend his senior season as long as possible, especially considering he helped Marian to a state semifinal berth last season. More than anything to come that consumes his focus.

“Really, I don’t even know how I got here,” Jackson said. “Just surrounded myself with great people. Great people rubbed off on me and helped influence me on a positive path and just helped make me a better basketball player, helped me develop my skills and helped me develop my character. I’ve still got more work to do so I’m gonna be in the gym.”

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