Prep school helps Donya Jackson 'a whole lot'
Since leading Calvert Hall to the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship one year ago, there have been "no days off" for Donya Jackson.
The 2010 BCL Tournament MVP stepped away from the local spotlight after graduation and packed his bags for a post-grad year at Mercersburg Academy. At the Pennsylvania prep school, Jackson has prepared for a college career at the Naval Academy by improving his academics and his game. Developing into a more potent scorer was a top priority for the two-time BCL Defensive Player of the Year.
“I worked on my offensive game a whole lot because I didn’t want to be one-dimensional,” Jackson said. “I didn’t want to just be a stopper. I wanted to be able to stop someone and make it tough for them [to defend] me on the offensive end. … [Prep school] gave me the opportunity to go ahead and do some more things on the offensive end. It’s helped me a whole lot.”
Blue Storm coach Mark Cubit said Jackson was a college-ready prospect when he enrolled at Mercersburg. It was obvious to Cubit that Jackson received “great coaching” at Calvert Hall, so there wasn’t a ton of skill development that needed to be done.
“He did a fantastic job. He’s a great leader,” Cubit said. “Obviously, he’s a very, very strong defender, and he found his rhythm offensively as well. … He’s got a very nice jump shot. I don’t think that was ever an unknown. He showed up with a very good jump shot. I think what he improved was his ball-handling, [and his] ability to get the jump shot off the ball. I think that was the major difference that we saw throughout the course of the year. He was able to handle the ball a little better.”
Jackson said he averaged around 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals for Mercersburg (10-13). The Blue Storm finished their season Feb. 17 with a 73-67 loss to Shenandoah Valley Christian School. Jackson scored a team-high 21 points in the loss.
When it became clear to Jackson that he would need a year of prep school before heading to Annapolis, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound wing came up with a list of goals. Consider most – if not all – of those objectives accomplished.
“As far as basketball goes, I’ve definitely come here and [done] almost exactly what I thought I was going to do,” Jackson said. “I said I was going to come here and improve my game and try to average 20 points. I did that, plus more. I said I was going to come here and try to make my passing better and make my IQ higher on the floor, and I did. As far as academics go, I think I’m doing a great job just keeping up with my studies, [especially with] always being on the road with basketball.”
In addition to basketball and classes, Jackson has been working hard on declamation – a public speaking competition at Mercersburg that is scheduled for Thursday.
“I can’t wait,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be a comedy piece.”
Jackson hasn’t received official notice from the Naval Academy that he’s been admitted, but his grades have been good and he expects that official acceptance to come soon enough. He plans on moving to Annapolis at the end of June to get started on his plebe summer.
Jackson has paid close attention to the Midshipmen (11-19) this season. He’s counting the days until he joins their ranks and helps “take Navy to the next level.”
“Oh man, I can’t wait to get there,” Jackson said. “I’m so excited to get with my team and just start working out. I know [there are] going to be stressful days when I think, ‘Why am I attending this school? Why did I come here?’ But I’m just going to push through because I really think with the class we have coming in, I think we can do some big things athletically.”
Handout photo of Donya Jackson