“What can I do to help?” A thoughtful question posed by Demetrius Jackson ’13 to Athletic Director Steve Ravotto ’87 that will impact Marian High School for years to come. Students and staff will soon be welcomed back to a newly designed gymnasium floor, now bearing the name “Demetrius Jackson Court” after one of Marian’s youngest and most recognizable alumni.
The story unfolded on August 12, 2016, as Steve Ravotto was to host the football scrimmage, his first official home event as AD, when Demetrius Jackson walked through the gates. He came to support the Knights and watch his brothers, Jake and Zack Whitfield.
Demetrius was six weeks removed from being selected by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Draft and was set to head to training camp shortly. Ravotto was not surprised by his offer to help Marian, as he knew Demetrius’ caring nature and love of Marian. Steve responded with gratitude, but encouraged him to get settled and take care of himself. He knew there would be plenty of time to help and that Demetrius would get the first call when the time was right.
Demetrius’ love of Marian began years earlier in 2009, when he started his freshman year. In the fall of his senior year, he declared he would further his education and basketball career at the University of Notre Dame. He then went on to have a record setting year where he averaged 25.9 points per game (still a record at Marian for a single season) and became Marian’s all-time leading scorer. On February 15, 2013, Jackson became the second Northern Indiana resident to be selected for the McDonald’s All-American game (Shawn Kemp was the first). On April 1st of that year, Demetrius won the skill contest despite the fact thta five guys who would go in the Top 9 of the 2014 draft were participants. In all, nine future first round and four future second round picks were in the competition. On April 3rd, Demetrius won the Jack Daly Sportsmanship Award and on that same day, he found out he finished second in the Indiana Mr. Basketball voting.
Demetrius has not played a competitive game in the Marian gym since February 7, 2013, but has returned multiple times, including almost exactly three years later when Marian High School brought the Notre Dame junior captain back. Mishawaka mayor, Dave Wood declared February 9, 2016 as Demetrius Jackson Day and presented him the key to the city.
It would be a little over a month after that honor that Jackson would help lead Notre Dame to the Elite Eight. On March 26, 2016, Demetrius scored 26 points in a loss to North Carolina. That would turn out to be his last game in an Irish uniform as he declared for the NBA Draft four days later. Which takes us back to that August night in 2016 when he wanted to help Marian and Ravotto told him to get settled.
Jackson did get settled and has continued to chase a dream that has seen him play for the Celtics, the Houston Rockets, the Philadelphia 76ers and recently a summer stint with the Portland Trailblazers. On November 6, 2016, he made his pro debut against the Denver Nuggets where he scored 8 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, and dished out 2 assists. This story is still ongoing and is a long way from its end, but Demetrius’ love of Marian started a long time ago.
Demetrius Jackson’s journey has brought him full circle to leave another legacy at Marian. He answered the call without hesitation to help with phase one of the gym renovation project. Don’t miss the Knights in action this year, playing on “Demetrius Jackson Court”.