Participants at the basketball camp organized by Maryville Alcoa Blount County Parks and Rec got a surprise June 26.
Professional basketball player and Rocky Top summer basketball league team member James “Boo” Jackson came to talk to the players and impressed the young basketball campers. Jackson spoke for a few minutes and then answered questions before signing autographs and showing off his dunking ability.
The Eastern Michigan grad, now a Blount County resident, has played professional basketball in Europe and has been working out at Maryville College before trying out for other pro teams. Jackson said he has enjoyed being part of the Rocky Top League being held at Bearden High School. While the temperature is usually hot in the gym, he enjoys the fans. “I think the fans are great,” he said. “They pack the house for summer league. It’s great to see the support they give the teams.”
Jackson moved to Blount County to be close to his family after his father was transferred here with Alcoa, Inc. Jackson’s fiancé is a celebrity herself. Nickki Alexander won the first season of the reality television show “Flavor of Love.” She is part of the VH-1 television show “I Love Money” that began July 6.
The couple recently got a house in Louisville. “My fiancé loves it,” he said.
“This is our home,” Alexander said of Blount County. “We work in the big cities and come back to a small town. I love it here.”
Jackson said he knows how important it is to pay attention to young athletes and give them a few moments. He remembered the impact Connie Hawkins, a basketball player who spoke with him as a youngster, had on him. “I remember when I was younger. I lived in a rough neighborhood and a guy came in and talked to us, and I just appreciated it,” Jackson said of Hawkins. “He definitely had an impact on my basketball career.”
Jackson is working hard to get to the next level in his career and plans to go to Las Vegas for the National Basketball Association summer league. “Ultimately the NBA is my goal to reach so I’m pursing it,” he said.
Jackson learned about the camp through his realtor, Jackie Mills. Mills sponsors the T-shirts at the camp and also sponsors Ice Cream day at the camp.
Chris Clark with Parks and Rec said the camp had about 50 students. Coaches Micah Marsh and his cousin Dawn Marsh lead the camp. Micah Marsh is a coach at Alcoa High School. Dawn Marsh is a head coach at Duluth High School in Georgia and is also a Division I women’s basketball official/referee. She has officiated games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 10, the Big 12 and the Colonial Conference.
This is the 12th year for the camp and third year it has been held at AHS, Clark said.