SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Coming into his senior year at Loyola-Chicago, Aundre Jackson had visions of becoming the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year.
And really, why wouldn’t he?
After leaving Kennedale (TX) High School and shining at McLellan Community College in Waco, Jackson finished his first year with the Ramblers — his junior year of eligibility in 2016-17 — with a 14.5 point-per-game average and was named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year. He was the first Rambler to ever receive that honor.
But after getting starts in each of the team’s first three games this year, Jackson found himself again coming off the bench when freshman Cameron Krutwig leapfrogged him into the starting lineup.
It hasn’t slowed Jackson, who scored in double figures 20 times this season, including each of the Ramblers’ first three games in this amazing NCAA Tournament run.
“Going into this year, I had big hopes and dreams. Like winning all-conference or winning player of the year in our conference,” Jackson said. “But being able to take a backseat to Cam, who’s a great player, and to still have success — I can’t be mad at that. I’m just enjoying the moment, supporting the team however I can.”
Jackson hopes he can keep supporting Loyola on Saturday in the Final Four’s opening tip. The Ramblers matchup with Michigan with a spot in the national championship game on the line.
Sure, he would have preferred to have the accolades, but in the end, helping his team to an amazing 32-5 record thus far has been a just reward.
“I say great things come with sacrifice, so everybody sacrificed something. Everybody gave up something to get us where we are,” Jackson said.
His coach, Porter Moser, said he’s been utterly impressed with Jackson’s selflessness.
“Not one time did he complain,” Moser said. “Not one time did he walk into my office and say, ‘coach, can we talk about me not starting.’ Never once.”
Moser said Jackson’s approach has epitomized the team mentality that’s led the Ramblers’ success.
“The team’s bigger than one person, and he’s the best example of that,” Moser said. "He’s done whatever he’s been asked, played his role. And he’s played a big role.”