November 11, 2009 9:01:00 AM
Kendall Jackson is getting a second chance to play basketball. .
Jackson is a freshman on the men''s basketball team at East Central Community College in Decatur after missing his senior season at Columbus High School due to an injury.
Jackson suffered a stress fracture in his leg while competing in the triple jump at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State Track Meet as a junior at Columbus High.
He vividly remembers suffering the injury Sept. 25, 2008, because it was his mother''s birthday.
After a year of rigorous rehabilitation, Jackson is back on the hardwood at ECCC.
"It feels great to get to play again," Jackson said. "I thought I was never going to get to play again. It took me a whole year to recover from that surgery and it seemed like it took forever."
Jackson is joined on ECCC''s team by former Columbus High teammate Josh Carothers and Victor Taylor, a graduate of Noxubee County High. All three are freshmen.
Jackson is back up and running despite having a steel rod that extends from his knee to his ankle.
He underwent outpatient surgery to have a screw removed from his ankle Oct. 10, but the procedure hasn''t kept him from missing a game this season.
He has played in all four of ECCC''s games, averaging 3.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest. He scored a season-high six points in ECCC''s 79-77 overtime win at Coahoma Community College on Monday. He grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds against East Mississippi C.C.
The East Mississippi game was special to him because he has friends from Columbus who go to EMCC.
"It feels great playing again," Jackson said. "I feel like the old me. I''m running good, jumping good."
Jackson is grateful to ECCC coach Maurice Bowie for giving him a chance to play when other coaches shied away from him.
Bowie decided to take a chance on Jackson considering the severity of his injury.
"(Columbus High) Coach Sammy Smith and I have a good relationship," Bowie said. "We go way back to when I was at Itawamba. He kept me in the loop about a couple of kids. I trusted his judgment. He said the kid could play and he''d be able to help us.
"I had our trainers look at him just to make sure. They looked at him and said he was good to go."
Bowie likes the versatility the 6-foot-1, 213-pound Jackson brings to his team.
"He''s done a great job defensively," Bowie said. "He can guard a five guy, a four, a three, a two. He can play all four spots. He adds depth to our guard play and our post play.
"Kendall is not that tall, but he''s strong. I didn''t think he''d be able to get down in there and mix it up, but (against Holmes) we play two 6-10s and I looked up and he was down there guarding them because our post guys were in (foul) trouble. He did pretty well against them."
Carothers (5-8, 158) has helped ECCC (2-2) with his outside shooting. He''s averaging 6.7 points, which includes a season-high 13 points against EMCC. He also scored eight points against Coahoma.
"Josh shoots the ball well," Bowie said. "He''s been playing well and practicing well. He''s a tough kid."
Taylor has yet to play this season after straining his knee and suffering a concussion in separate incidents. He is expected to miss three or four weeks.
"It''s going to be a huge loss," Bowie said. "He redshirted for us this past year. He''s been here the whole time, so he understands what we''re trying to do offensively. He understands what our goals are and what our aspirations for the season are."
Bowie is looking forward to Jackson and Taylor returning to 100 percent because he believes they can help the team be successful.