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Jackson reveals life as a leading man

Ducks' top scorer ponders NBA, Mandy Moore and more

EUGENE Ñ

He could be the Pacific-10 Conference player of the year, an All-American and the Oregon Ducks' third first-round NBA draft pick in three years. So, the Trib went to find out what makes Luke Jackson tick.

Trib: You lead the Ducks in scoring, rebounding and assists Ñ but critique yourself.

Jackson: You practice enough every day, when game time comes around I'm playing at my best more than I ever have. If you're confident like that on the floor É I try to just focus on having fun and playing as hard as I can. So, hopefully I don't have a lot of regrets.

Trib: What's the No. 1 thing Luke Ridnour and Fred Jones have told you about the NBA?

Jackson: You have to go in and earn your way.

Trib: You went to watch an NBA game recently Ñ Ridnour and the Seattle SuperSonics against the Trail Blazers. Did it get your blood flowing?

Jackson: Watching it, I felt really good where I'm at, as far as being able to play in that league. I know I can play in that league.

Trib: Are you a Miami, New York or Dallas kind of guy?

Jackson: I can handle the big city. I would love to play in New York. There's a lot of basketball tradition there, and with the right collection of guys, people don't really understand how huge winning would be. I could go to L.A., too. I'm not going to say the Lakers could use me, but É

Trib: You know, some people change when they get to the NBA.

Jackson: I hope I won't. I have a pretty good grasp of who I am, and I would not get lost in anything. The NBA's identity needs more guys with character, who kids can look up to and relate with.

Trib: Being a pro is your utopia?

Jackson: I want to win an NBA title. I don't really care for the big house or big car. When I get out of the NBA, I'm going to move back to a small town, anyway. I like it here. I like Creswell. I'm a small-town guy. It's a good place to raise a family.

Trib: Without basketball or baseball Ñ you're a left-handed pitcher, and you had pro aspirations Ñ what would you be?

Jackson: I'm graduating this term in political science, and I'd end up going to law school. Without basketball, I could do it. I'm a guy who likes to put everything I've got into one thing.

Trib: You've had your number 33 retired at ol' Creswell High.

Jackson: Yeah, but my brother (Joey) is still wearing my jersey; he's going to finish the year out, then it's going up in the rafters. That's pretty sweet.

Trib: You live with three basketball players (Jay Anderson, James Davis and Matt Short), a football player (Mike DeLaGrange) and a friend (Nate Smith). Tell me their quirks. Do any leave their underwear in the bathroom?

Jackson: (Laughs) No É let's see. DeLa is always eating. Nate changes hobbies every week; he'll get into surfing one week, then buy a DVD player. Matt Short will play video games until 2 in the morning. You'll never see James without his shoes on. And Jay, he likes to think he's a businessman, some important head of accounting just because he pays our utilities. I think he's taking a little off the top for himself (laughs).

Trib: What's your prized possession?

Jackson: Besides my Bronco, I have a golf cart, which I've put a CD player in. I drive it up here (the UO campus) at night, usually. You know, just trying to drive the back roads.

Trib: Tell me about your cultural side.

Jackson: Hey, I try to appreciate just about everything. I don't know if you're going to catch me in the opera house. But I like to eat at good restaurants. I can appreciate that.

Trib: So your last meal would be É

Jackson: My mom's such a good cook, I'd have her make something special Ñ she makes some pretty good pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Trib: Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

Jackson: Neither. Mandy Moore. She's just cute. I've got a weakness for a girl in pigtails and overalls.

Trib: What's your girlfriend think about that?

Jackson: My girlfriend's cuter than Mandy Moore. But everybody gives me a hard time about having a girlfriend. It's like I'm married or something.

Trib: If you wanted to walk in somebody's shoes, whose would they be? Andy Roddick's? (Roddick is dating Mandy Moore.)

Jackson: People tell me I look like Andy Roddick É I like my position pretty well. I'm having a good time. I don't really have any needs or wants. God's blessed me a lot. I could say LeBron (James) or Carmelo (Anthony), because they just signed big contracts and they're playing in the NBA. I want to be in the NBA so badly.

Trib: 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Seabiscuit'?

Jackson: 'Seabiscuit.' I'm not a 'Lord of the Rings' kind of guy.

Trib: You read a lot. Favorite book?

Jackson: 'The River Why' by David James Duncan. It's about a guy in Oregon who goes fly-fishing. I also go through a daily devotional book by John Wooden.

Trib: Which chat rooms do you inhabit?

Jackson: I hate chat. Actually, I don't really like computers. I check my e-mail and see what's in the news, check out the college scores and see who's doing well. I like to know what's going on in the world. Don't like video games. I like to be active. I don't like to sit around.

Trib: What's your favorite move?

Jackson: I take what the defense gives me. I'm a tough matchup. Like against Oregon State, when I scored 39, if they had a small guy on me, I could shoot over the top of them from the outside and I could drive in the middle and jump over the top of them. If they put a big guy on me, they were usually too slow.

But we don't run a whole lot of plays that are just directed at me. We just run motion; you get open and you're going to get looks. Last year, we ran a lot to Luke (Ridnour) Ñ the high ball screen until we were blue in the face.

Trib: Coach Ernie Kent loves the word 'growth.' Tell me about your growth.

Jackson: When I came in here, I'm not sure how committed I was. I wasn't a great leader, but people have always told me I'm a natural leader. And this year has been a good year for me to prove that.

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