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April 4, 2013

Jackson presses on after McDonald's game

CHICAGO - Demetrius Jackson spent Wednesday night in the United Center playing basketball on the biggest stage high school has to offer.

Participating in the McDonald's All-American Game marks the culmination of a fantastic prep career for any player, so Jackson spent all week soaking in the experience. He also made sure to get something out of it beyond gear and the national spotlight.

Once the four-star point guard from Mishawaka, Ind., boarded a flight for Florida this morning to finish out spring break, he had a firmer grip on where his game stands.

It might be just enough motivation to get Jackson off the beach and into the gym.

"Hopefully I can find a gym out there with all the gear we got here," he said. "I've got hoop shoes and stuff so hopefully I can find a court there and maybe purchase a basketball and start getting to work."

Jackson came off the bench for the East team in a 110-99 loss, something he hasn't done since the first couple games of his freshman year at Marian High School.

After a couple runs up and down the court and two drives turned away at the rim, Jackson settled into the game, showing a spin move in transition that elicited a roar from the crowd of 15,818 late in the first half.

Before heading into the locker room Jackson collected the Jack Daly Sportsmanship Award, an honor given annually to the player who shows the best sportsmanship during game week.

Previous winners include Chris Paul and Shane Battier.

"It was great," Jackson said. "It's an honor just to be here but to receive an award and be able to take a couple trophies home is really a blessing."

Jackson's first point came on a free throw with 14:01 remaining in the second half. Two fast break layups followed. Jackson finished with five points, a team-high four assists and two steals.

All in all, he tried to play the game that got him onto the court in the first place.

"I've always been a selfless player," Jackson said. "Even in high school I've always been a selfless player. Even when I don't have the talent I had out on my team today I just pass the ball and let the game come to me. That's exactly what I tried to do (Wednesday), just let the game come to me. It just happened that I passed a little more than I would at my own high school."

Now Jackson will press forward with the process of improvement armed with more lessons learned, perhaps starting at some gym in Florida the next couple days, but more likely upon his return home later this week.

Either way, playing in the McDonald's Game helped set the tone for an offseason of work before enrolling at Notre Dame in the summer.

"It was a little nerve wracking but I just wanted to have fun," Jackson said. "All these guys are great so I just passed the ball and cut through. A couple times I would drive and I didn't finish some of the baskets like I wanted to. But all in all I just enjoyed the time."

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