FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas closed the deal on one of the state's most sought-after girls basketball recruits Friday, signing Jacksonville's Jessica Jackson to a national letter of intent.
Jackson, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds per game as a senior, leading Jacksonville to a win in the lass 5A state championship game. She is ranked by ESPN as the fourth-best forward nationally and No. 17 recruit overall.
She committed to Arkansas prior to her senior season, but opted not to sign with the Razorbacks during the fall signing period. She had also been recruited by Baylor, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Georgia and Texas, among others.
“We have been very patient with Jess' recruitment,” Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. “Every program in the country wanted her so it’s very significant that she decided to stay home and become a Razorback. This is a young lady that could play any position on the floor if we ask her. She is the true definition of a point forward. She has guard skills in a post player’s body.
“Anytime you beat out a half dozen Final Four programs on a recruit, it's a huge statement for our program. Hopefully it's the first of many to come. I'm so proud of Jess and her dad, Jeff, that they stuck with their hearts and decided to be the cornerstone of building the Arkansas program. Our fans should be very excited and appreciate her loyalty.”
Jackson will join an Arkansas program next season two years removed from its first NCAA Tournament bid in nearly a decade. The Razorbacks played in the WNIT in 2013, losing to Tulane in the second round.
The Jacksonville standout was one of two nationally ranked recruits in the state last season. Little Rock Hall guard Tyler Scaife, a McDonald's All-American, signed with Rutgers in November.