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Jackson carries winning ways from Monessen to Robert Morris

| Saturday, June 16, 2012, 8:05 p.m.

Highlighting A.J. Jackson's scholastic career at Monessen High School was leading the Greyhounds' boys basketball team to consecutive WPIAL Class A championships in 2001 and 2002, the program's first since 1995.

At Robert Morris University in Moon, Jackson concluded his collegiate career by helping the Colonials win their first Northeast Conference regular season championship in 16 years.

Robert Morris' 2007-08 season and Jackson's career ended in the National Invitational Tournament with a tough 87-81 first-round loss to eventual tourney semifinalist Syracuse University.

Not so surprisingly, Jackson was Robert Morris' leading scorer and rebounder at Syracuse with a 19-point, eight-rebound effort. He also added two assists, five steals and five three-point baskets as the Colonials tied a team single-game record with 16 total treys.

Jackson, a 6-foot-6-inch, 240-pound senior forward, finished the season as the Colonials' second-leading scorer and rebounder. He averaged 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and was third on the team in three-point baskets with 49. He was the Colonials' top foul shooter, and converted 89 of 112 attempts for 79.5 percent.

Jackson also led all Colonials in blocks with 27 and produced 38 steals and 30 assists. He was Robert Morris' single-game top scorer and top rebounder 12 times each this past season. Over the past 13 regular season games and first NEC playoff game, Jackson scored 10 points or more in 14 straight games.

He earned all-conference honors for the third straight season and helped the Colonials finish with a 26-8 overall record under first-year head coach Mike Rice and the 26 wins was a new single-season record. The Colonials won the NEC regular season title with a 16-2 conference record and owned a 14-game win streak until being upset in the NEC semifinals by eventual conference tournament champion Mount St. Mary's of Emmitsburg, Md.

The NIT appearance was the first one in school history and Robert Morris has competed in the NCAA Tournament five times overall. The 16-2 NEC mark is the best in school history and surpassed the 13-5 conference record achieved by the 1999-00 Colonials who were coached by Jim Boone.

Jackson's head coach at Robert Morris before this past season was Mark Schmidt, who coached the Colonials from 2000-01 through 2006-07 before taking the head coaching position at St. Bonaventure University in New York.

In 2006-07, Jackson led all Robert Morris players in scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and three years ago Jackson averaged 17 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

He transferred to Robert Morris from East Tennessee State University in May of 2004. Because of NCAA transfer rules, Jackson sat out the entire 2004-05 season.

At Monessen playing for veteran head coach Joe Salvino, Jackson scored a school-record 1,757 points and received first-team Associated Press All-State honors in 2003 after averaging 24 points and 16 rebounds a game. He was the third player in Monessen history to be a four-year starter in basketball.

Jackson finished his collegiate scorer as Robert Morris' seventh leading career scorer and third leading career rebounder with 1,455 points and 685 rebounds. On the scoring list, he passed former Belle Vernon and Mon Valley Hall of Fame 2007 inductee Tom Parks, who scored 1,027 points for Robert Morris from 1979-83.

In career rebounding, Jackson surpassed Ringgold great Skip Koskoski, who was a collegiate teammate of Parks and played at Robert Morris from 1980-84. Parks still ranks 17th in the Colonials scoring list with 1,027 points, while Koskoski's 608 career boards still ranks fifth in school history.

Jackson was the 18th player to become a part of Robert Morris' 1,000-point list and 14th player to surpass 500 career rebounds.

A three-year starter, Jackson ranks fifth and sixth respectively in the RMU career record book for made field goals (525) and field goals attempted (1,174) and 10th in free throws made (281), attempted (361) and percentage (77.8).

His 83 career blocks rank fourth and his 27 rejections this year rank sixth in single-season history. Jackson had 28 blocks a year ago and 24 blocks as a sophomore in 2005-06. He finished with 25 career "double-doubles" and his 15-point per game career scoring average in 97 games played is fourth best.

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