Nine years ago, Kentucky claimed their eighth national title in the 2011-12 season. Watching as a young kid was now freshman forward Isaiah Jackson, who said today in his preseason press briefing that UK’s 2012 title run was when he fell in love with the Cats.
“That’s when it started, I just fell in love with it. I could tell (that) here, it was a winning culture. I just fell in love with them ever since. I forgot what grade I was in, but ever since then, I was just in love with Kentucky,” he said.
Anthony Davis, who was one of the best players in school history, highlighted that team as they flew through the regular season and NCAA Tournament. Davis was a long, lanky presence on the floor and became the school’s all-time leading shot-blocker for a season (186). Alike the now NBA champion, Jackson is a long shot-blocking presence around the rim, and he said today that the UK player he most compares himself to is in fact Davis.
“I watched a lot of Anthony Davis, just how he played because we’re built the same. We’re tall, long, can block shots and do everything. I mean, me growing up, to be honest, I was always a Kentucky fan so when Anthony Davis got here, I was always watching Kentucky. Seeing the stuff he did was crazy, and I feel like I can sort of mirror my game after him in a way. So, I try to look at him sometimes,” he said.
Now that Jackson has arrived on campus and gone through months of practice, he now has experienced the “winning culture” he saw watching on television as Kentucky won the title in 2012. He described practice as a battle each day, which is a different circumstance from high school.
“Here I feel like every day is a fight; it’s a battle in practice every day. Everybody here, you’re just not the–at Spire (Academy), I knew I had my position secured. There were people there, but they weren’t at the level that I was. I already knew I was starting and stuff like that, but here it’s like an everyday battle at practice. I mean, every day with Coach (John Calipari) is on you or the guy you’re guarding is busting your butt. You just gotta adjust. Competitive wise it’s different at practice. Everything here is full up-and-down speed. There it was—high school could take breaks. Here there’s no room for error or breaks,” he said.
Isaiah Jackson has gained a lot of hype this preseason, and will hit the Rupp Arena stage along with the rest of the team on Nov. 25 against Morehead State.