Goss: The re-retiring of Bolingbrook great Trent Jackson’s No. 32
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org February 20, 2013 10:18PM
Former Bolingbrook High School basketball star Trent Jackson talks to the crowd at halftime before his number is retired. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:53AM
Early in the 1981-82 basketball season, Trent Jackson was a freshman guard on the sophomore team at Bolingbrook.
“He scored so many points in the first half of our sophomore game against Washington that I told Marty (Kruszka, the sophomore coach) not to play him the second half,” then-Raiders coach Bob Mitchell recalled. “I put him into the varsity game in the second half and he scored 19 points. He was on varsity from then on.”
Kruszka laughed that he never has forgiven Mitchell for taking the kid with the 44-inch vertical from him.
“John Meyer, who used to coach at Romeoville (and now is the sophomore coach at Lockport) said he never believed in bringing freshmen up to the varsity,” Mitchell said. “He said Trent was the only one who should have been brought up.”
At Friday night’s game against Joliet West, Bolingbrook re-retired Jackson’s No. 32 jersey, an event that attracted former administrators and coaches such as Mitchell, Kruszka, Larry Bernard and Phil Acton, among others, along with Jackson’s family and close friends from back home.
I don’t recall having a better time covering a basketball game, including the halftime ceremony, when Jackson commanded the attention of the current Raiders and the entire crowd.
Bolingbrook athletic director Rob Rose noted that Jackson’s No. 32 was retired after he graduated “but it was never encased or hung up and with the transition from the old BHS to the new one in 2004, the knowledge of his jersey being retired seemed to be lost also.”
So, over the last couple of years, the Bolingbrook administration discussed a proper ceremony, as Rose said, “to honor Trent for his contributions to Bolingbrook High School, his basketball career after BHS and his philanthropic work through his Rough Sportswear Company & Foundation (based in Madison, Wis.).”
A consensus All-Stater at Bolingbrook, the 6-foot-1 Jackson played four years at Wisconsin. He was the team MVP his junior and senior seasons, when he led the Badgers in scoring, and was second-team All-Big Ten as a senior. He left Wisconsin as the school’s third all-time scorer and the all-time leader in three-point shooting (190-of-430, 44.2 percent) and steals (151).
He went on to play in NBA veterans camps for six teams and overseas for eight teams in eight countries, where he averaged 23.4 points, 5.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
“This night is special,” Jackson said. “It’s not about me. There are lots of hands in this — family, teammates, staff, coaches, even the teams we played against. This is all for the town of Bolingbrook. That senior year (1984-85) put us on the map.”
Despite lacking height, those Raiders finished 24-6. They reached the supersectional at Illinois State, where they lost to eventual state runner-up Springfield Lanphier, which arguably featured Illinois’ most dominant player, 6-8 Ed Horton.
The guard tandem of Jackson and Jay Lomas, who started for two years at Texas Christian and died of stomach cancer in 2004, made the Raiders a player on the state stage.
“I always said if there was no Jay Lomas there never would have been a Trent Jackson,” Jackson said. “They say the box-and-one was invented for me, but then came the triangle-and-two for Jay and me. His jersey should be the next one hoisted to the roof of this building.”
“Those two combined for 42 points a game when they were seniors, Trent 25 and Jay 17,” Mitchell said.
“Trent was the leading scorer in our conference (SICA West) and MVP of the conference his last three years. He averaged 31 points, 11 rebounds in the Thanksgiving tournament his senior year, 30 and 10 in four games at Christmas, and he was a 6-1 shooting guard. To me, he was one of a kind.
“And Jay was outstanding, too. People don’t realize how good he was.”
Jackson’s younger brother T.J. played with him at Bolingbrook. However, older brother Eric, who grew up in the same house, played at Romeoville.
“The toughest two years of my life were playing against my older brother,” Jackson said. “But we did have eight games against them and we won ’em all.”
Football quarterback Aaron Bailey is among the current headline athletes coming out of Bolingbrook. Jackson is his uncle.
“Aaron is my sister’s son,” he said. “With the coaching changes at Wisconsin, they asked me if they should re-enter the recruiting of Aaron. But he wanted to honor his commitment to Illinois.”
That reminded Jackson of his own recruiting.
“I wanted to go to Illinois, too,” he said. “But Lou Henson was recruiting Kendall Gill (a future Illini) and Phil Henderson (who starred at Duke and died this week) at the time, and it didn’t work out. So I went to Wisconsin. I don’t think anyone went wrong.”
Jackson said he attended a few of Bailey’s football games and saw some Bolingbrook girls basketball games a few years ago. Friday’s was the first Raiders boys game he has seen for a while, but he has attended boys games elsewhere.
“The game today, the guys probably are bigger and stronger than when I played,” he said. “But some of the fundamentals aren’t the way we learned them.
“Of course, when you play against a guy like Ed Horton, he’s big and strong in any era. That was all that held us back from going to state, we had no size at all.
“The one thing I wish I had gotten was the ring to bring the title back here.”