This weekend, Mavericks’ forward Justin Jackson will do something he promised his family he would do, no matter how long it took.
And it turns out his timing was just right.
Jackson will walk the stage and get his diploma from the University of North Carolina. He will be graduating with two of his good friends from the Tar Heels’ basketball team, Kenny Williams and Luke Maye, who actually provided the stimulus for Jackson to finish his degree as soon as possible.
Jackson left UNC after three seasons on the basketball team. He will be entering his third NBA season in 2019-20. Williams and Maye both were a year behind Jackson, but stayed for their full four seasons with the Tar Heels.
That friendship, along with the promise he made years ago, will make this weekend memorable for Jackson and his wife, Brooke.
“Growing up, I always promised my family I would go back to finish it, no matter when I left,” Jackson said this week. “Obviously, I stayed three years so when I left, I didn’t have a lot of classwork left. I think I had one more class left I had to do on campus. All the rest I could do online. So I went back last summer for that class to finish up.”
Jackson took his last final exam on Saturday and, while he’s been working in the weight room and on the court with coach Rick Carlisle early in the offseason, he’s excited about going through the graduation ceremony with his buddies.
He said they served as a motivation for him to finish his studies in time to graduate this spring.
“They are two of my best friends,” Jackson said. “They were seniors (this year) on the basketball team. So I figured it would be pretty cool if I could graduate with them. That’s why I made that push and tried to finish and it feels good to finally be done.”
Jackson majored in sport administration and hopes to continue in the sports business in some capacity after his playing days are done. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be running an NBA front office some day.
“After I play, hopefully, a decent-sized career, that I would be able to do something in sports,” he said. “Hopefully basketball. That was my thought process of doing that degree. I don’t know if I would want to do front office. I don’t know if that’s where my calling is. But doing something in sports was my thought process on it.”