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Charlotte star's mentors say choice is near

Lakeem Jackson (image courtesy Rivals.com)
Lakeem Jackson (image courtesy Rivals.com)

USC men’s basketball coach Darrin Horn appears to be closing in on his first commitment from a high school recruit.

Lakeem Jackson, a well-regarded wing player from Charlotte, has the Gamecocks as his top choice, according to his coach and older brother. Jackson will be a senior this season at Christ School in Arden, N.C.

Jackson, who is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, is the 54th-ranked player in the country and the No. 10 small forward, according to scout.com. Rivals.com, another prominent recruiting site, ranks Jackson 104th overall.

Horn, who was hired April 1, has yet to bring in any new players and has lost one recruit. But the comments of those close to Jackson indicate Horn is in good shape with the player.

“I know South Carolina’s No. 1 on his list right now,” said Rico Jackson, the player’s oldest brother and mentor. “I think he’ll go ahead and make his decision, if not within the next week, probably when the summer’s out, on his way back to school.”

The Gamecocks have an advocate in Christ School coach David Gaines.

“I’ve told him very clearly that I feel South Carolina is the best choice for him,” Gaines said. “I think it’s a great fit; it’s close to home. He could be a part of a renaissance there. And it has nothing to do with the fact that my wife is a South Carolina graduate.”

Horn cannot comment on recruits because of NCAA rules. Lakeem Jackson could not be reached for comment.

Georgia Tech is USC’s main competition for Jackson, according to his brother and coach. Gaines said Clemson and Marquette also have offered Jackson a scholarship, while Florida has shown interest.

Horn began recruiting Jackson a year ago, when the coach was at Western Kentucky. Gaines said Jackson was ready to visit the midmajor school. When Horn took the USC job, Jackson shifted his loyalty.

Jackson shoots left-handed and does everything else with his right. Shooting is his biggest weakness. Gaines said Jackson was “fair” from beyond the 3-point line last season, when he averaged about 15 points per game.

Jackson was due to visit USC on Monday, but the trip was canceled for non-basketball reasons. His brother said it didn’t matter anyway because Jackson has visited USC twice.

“We’ve seen the campus, seen the guys, met with the coaching staff and everything,” Rico Jackson said. “It’s just a matter of making a decision on what he needs to do.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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