Reggie Jackson is off to the faster start of his three-year career at Boston College, and it's due in part to the system set in place by new head coach Steve Donahue.
Donahue moved Jackson to the starting point guard slot and moved fellow senior Biko Paris, the former starting point guard, to shooting guard. The move has certainly proved to be beneficial, as Jackson is the Eagles' runaway MVP through their first nine games, averaging a team-high 19.6 points, 4.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds.
"I played point guard a lot in high school," Jackson said. "I'm very used to it, especially in this up-tempo offense. This year, I feel it's been easier running the point guard than any other year because, playing under coach Al Skinner, I had to direct other players and command my players and get the best out of them."
Even though Jackson is familiar with the point guard position, he has still been able to pick up tips and learn the tools of the trade from teammates, like Paris.
"The cool demeanor and when to push and when to relax," Jackson said about what he's picked up from Paris. "Just noticing every little inch of the court, noticing everybody's expression and noticing when players are tired or when someone's hot. Just keeping a cool head and studying the playbook inside and out."
Paris isn't the only teammate that helped him improve his game, as Jackson worked with senior forward Joe Trapani at length in the offseason.
"We were getting in the gym constantly together, watching film, knowing where we were probably going to get shots from and just trying to get a feel for each other in the pick-and-roll game," Jackson said. "Just really trying to work as hard as we can for a short period, maybe it's an hour and a half and getting really tired because we know we're going to play a lot of minutes this year and we're going to have to play at a high intensity."
The hard work has paid off. As of Wednesday, Jackson ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring behind Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney (20.4 PPG), fourth in assists and third in steals with 1.8 thefts per contest. In addition, Jackson had the ACC's sixth best field goal percentage (48.1%), the sixth best three-point percentage (42.5%) and had the best free throw percentage in the conference (90.6%). He also ranked second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio with a ratio of 2.4.
"I feel the previous two year, playing the point guard and playing off ball, watching the game develop and watching film with coaches has really helped me so far this year," said Jackson.
While Jackson acknowledged that a lot of his improvement came from his previous coaches and being another year older, but did not that there have been some changes.
"What's different now is just trying to get out in transition as much as possible and just the concepts of getting into transition," said Jackson. "Skinner wanted to get out in transition too, but it was just different concepts and how we ran the floor and approached the game. For the most part, I do credit my success to my previous coaching and my coaching now, and just how coach [Donahue] uses me in the best possible way."
In Boston College's season-opening win over St. Francis (NY), Jackson paced the Eagles with 17 points, four assists and two steals. Jackson scored a career-high 30 points in the Eagles' next game and also grabbed eight rebounds.
Jackson continued to put up impressive numbers after that, totaling nine points and 10 assists in the win over Holy Cross before dominating the Old Spice Classic with three strong performances.
His 21-point performance in the opening game of the Old Spice Classic spurred the Eagles to a thrilling 67-65 win over Texas A&M. Jackson followed that performance up with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two block in Boston College's loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals. In the third-place game of the classic, Jackson scored 11 points and had four rebounds and four assists.
Upon returning to Conte Forum to face Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Jackson lit up the Hoosiers defense, finishing with a game-high 27 points and five boards in an 88-76 win.
Jackson continued to work magic in the Eagles' game against UMass in the Boston Tip-Off Classic at TD Garden, scoring 17 points en route to a hard-fought 76-71 win over the Minutemen.
Without much surprise, Jackson tore up the Friars' defense on Wednesday night, scoring a team-high 26 points on the way to Boston College's 88-86 win over Providence.
Now sitting at 7-2, Boston College head to Maryland to take on the Terrapins in its first ACC contest of the Donahue era. The Eagles were picked to finish 10th in the conference, but Jackson believe they can be much better and uses the low selection as motivation.
"I like to go under the radar," he said. "All that matters is once it comes down to March and the committee's looking at strength of schedule and RPI and records is that we're at the top of this league. We know if we finish in the top six in the conference, that's basically an automatic bid to get it. At the end of the year, we hope to be where we want to be, which is in the NCAA tournament."
Not only is Jackson confident about this season, but he believes that he and the Eagles will continue to progress next season and down the road under Donahue.
"As long as I have four other players on the court with me, and the rest of the team believes in it, that's all that matters," Jackson said. "We work hard enough and coach's offense has proven to work, and he also recruits players that are just fit for his system. I definitely believe in out coach, I believe in our staff, I believe in the BC community and I believe that we will be a force to be reckoned with over these next few years."