Gateway’s Lexi Jackson looks forward to career at Kent State

Friday, October 11, 2019 | 5:28 PM

When Gateway girls basketball standout Lexi Jackson was mulling her decision of where to play at the collegiate level next year, she was looking for someone to show interest on a personal level.

Apparently Kent State women’s basketball coach Todd Starkey and his staff did just that as the Golden Flashes landed the senior center as one of their newest recruits.

“You can tell the coaches really care about the girls (on the team),” Jackson said.

“It was definitely a big weight lifted off my chest to make my decision (before the season starts). I’m excited for the opportunities coming my way and different experiences.”

Jackson committed Sept. 27 after also being sought after by James Madison, North Carolina A&T, Radford and Western Michigan.

Gateway coach Curtis Williams said out of the five schools who recruited Jackson, Kent State coaches put in the extra effort to make her feel wanted.

“Coach Starkey came to a game (last season) and was very supportive of her throughout the process,” Williams said.

“He just was really, really genuine. That was probably the biggest factor. He appeared to care for her as a person, not just a player. That was most critical to her decision making.”

Williams said Starkey flew to North Carolina to see her during the evaluation period.

Starkey is entering his fourth season as the Kent State women’s basketball coach. The team finished 20-13 last season with a women’s NIT appearance.

Williams also believes big accomplishments are in store for Jackson, who averaged a double-double last season at 16 points and 18 rebounds, and was part of Gateway’s 2017-18 WPIAL championship team.

“Honestly, I think she is going to be an All-American (in college),” Williams said.

“She’s a young player in terms of her growth and development over the last 18-24 months. (Jackson) is scratching the surface with how good she can be. Most people aren’t aware of what is she capable of.”

Both Jackson and Williams are now focused on a much-anticipated season, individually for Jackson and as a team.

“I’m happy for her that she is comfortable and has that decision taken care of,” Williams said. “Now she can focus on playing free and not worry about mistakes or bad games.

“I think she is going to have her best season this year.”

Jackson said she wants another WPIAL championship ring.

“(The team) is capable of winning a championship this year,” she said, “We just have to work hard and play as a team.”


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