Sixers' draftee Jackson thinking big

Posted: July 02, 2014

IT WAS 11:02 a.m. when the Sixers' new rookies walked into the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, but it seemed like one player was missing.

At 6-8 and 6-10, respectively, Jerami Grant and Dario Saric walked side-by-side, nearly hiding their new teammate. And when the players sat in front of the media, Pierre Jackson's face was finally visible, his 5-10, muscular frame hidden behind the giants he has become used to playing with.

His stature is diminutive. Tattoos cover his limbs and his fingers while blending with his black shirt, pants and sneakers. And when he finally spoke, his voice nearly matched his physique: small and quiet, his sentences nearly cracking before he could get the first words out clearly.

"Woah," Jackson, 22, said as he held his chest with a smile amid laughter from his teammates at PCOM over the weekend. "I have to continue to play with that chip on my shoulder. Nate Robinson and Isiah Thomas reached out to me a lot, trying to keep my head high. I just have to keep playing hard and keep getting better while I'm here."

But Jackson already has been here, though it was only for a few minutes. In 2013, the Sixers traded Jackson (their No. 42 pick) and Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for the rights to Nerlens Noel and the No. 10 pick in the 2014 draft. Last week, Jackson returned to the Sixers in a trade with the Pelicans for Russ Smith, the Sixers' pick at No. 47.

Last season, Jackson was sent to play for the Idaho Stampede, a part of the NBA Developmental League, a place he knew well from leading the College of Southern Idaho to two consecutive National Junior College Division I championships before his days at Baylor. And his second stint in Idaho was just as spectacular.

In 31 games with the Stampede, Jackson averaged 29.1 points, 6.4 assists and 1.9 steals while playing 41.5 minutes a night and setting a D-League record with a 58-point outing against the Texas Legends, the seventh time he had scored more than 40 points in a D-League game.

But that chip on his shoulder - one seemingly every guard under 6-feet seems to have - is still present. He still wants to prove to the NBA that he belongs. And Jackson knows playing his way - a gritty, hard-nosed style - with that chip, is the only way to survive in the league.

"The D-League was one of my stops before I got here and I just wanted to show NBA personnel that I was capable of playing at that level," Jackson said. "Now that I've got the chance I want to make the most of it."

"Check," Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie interrupted with laughs coming from Jackson and the entire media room. "That worked. Good job."

Now, the 176-pound guard from Las Vegas has found another NBA home, however temporary, though he plans to do enough to stay in Philadelphia. After the press conference, Jackson held up his new jersey for flashing cameras in the tiny media room.

Everything has come full-circle in one year for the former Baylor Bear, from being traded on draft night for Noel to donning a bright blue Sixers cap over the weekend with his new teammates. For the pint-sized Jackson, the second time hopefully will be the charm.

"A lot of emotions went on throughout this whole year," Jackson said. "I'm happy to be back where it all started."

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