Jackson honors late cousin in first start as a Shocker

After+stealing+the+ball%2C+sophomore+Clarence+Jackson+dunks+on+PVAMU+on+Dec.+22+in+Koch+Arena.+The+Shockers+won%2C+102-66.

Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

After stealing the ball, sophomore Clarence Jackson dunks on PVAMU on Dec. 22 in Koch Arena. The Shockers won, 102-66.

A career high and his first start as a Shocker brings more joy than some may know for junior forward Clarence “Monzy” Jackson. 

On Dec. 9, Jackson’s cousin, Demaryius Thomas died. Thomas was a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos in the NFL and was someone Jackson looked up to growing up. Jackson said he felt like he made his late cousin proud on Wednesday evening after the Wichita State men’s basketball team beat Prairie View A&M 102-66. 

“Just knowing how he inspired kids and where I’m from I can’t give up,” Jackson said. “I just had to stay focused and stay positive and trust in God that I can get the job done.”

Jackson started in place of Joe Pleasant due to a hamstring injury. Jackson is usually known by teammates as someone that comes off the bench and gives his team the extra energy they need to pull off a win. Tonight was a different story for him. 

“I haven’t been able to see what I can do coming off the bench with limited time but today I was able to come in and just settle down and embrace the opportunity that I had and I just thank my teammates for everyday just pushing me, encouraging me, and just telling me that my time is going to come and today was the day,” Jackson said. 

Head coach Isaac Brown said he told Jackson to make sure he was helping move and reverse the ball before the game and defending at a high level. Jackson did just that after scoring a career-high 15 points and eight rebounds against the Panthers. 

Brown said that Jackson took full advantage of the opportunity he was given as a starter against the Panthers. 

“I think it becomes contagious when you got one guy on the team that is playing all out with just reckless abandon,” Brown said. “Just playing hard. He does a great job of that.”

Jackson had struggled offensively early on this but that hasn’t deterred him from bringing energy off the bench. Jackson’s 15 points were the second time he’s reached double figures, with his two three-pointers tying a season-high.

“Monzy’s always going to be Monzy,” junior Qua Grant said of Jackson. “He’s going to bring energy, he’s going to make hustle plays and really get guys going. He’s going to keep going regardless.”