He was the first local player to be named a McDonald's All-American since 2000, and, rated as a five-star recruit signed to play at Duke, he is one of the most coveted players to ever suit up locally. The list of accolades he's received is extensive, and today he's adding another award:
The Tribune has named Jackson the 2016 boys' basketball Player of the Year.
"It means the world," said Jackson, who averaged 28.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game this year. "The state of Utah has been awesome to me. It's a real honor and privilege."
Jackson was gifted with natural ability. Simply the way he walks, almost an effortless glide, it's easy to discern the amount of athleticism pulsating through his veins. However, Jackson doesn't just wake up, stroll into the gym with flip-flops and a Capri Sun, and expect to be great. The combination of pure talent and an unwavering desire to be the best is why Jackson is where he is today.
"I love the game of basketball more than anything," Jackson said. "It's hard at times, but you always have that ultimate goal in your head. I want to make a career out of this, and I know I can't quit. You got to keep going."
In eighth grade, Jackson set his first goal: Make the varsity program at Lehi as a freshman. That summer was "probably the hardest I've ever worked," Jackson confessed. Every morning, six times a week, Jackson hoisted up 700 shots before using an assortment of chairs and cones to replicate 300 game-like shots, from pull-up jumpers to coming off screens Jackson wanted to be prepared.
In the second-to-last game in his freshman year, Jackson dropped a season-high 30 points against Lone Peak, which eventually was awarded the mythical national championship.
It was evidence the regimen worked. "I've tried to do that continuously throughout my high school career," Jackson said.
Next came the decision to transfer to Lone Peak. He had witnessed the success of the program, and with then-coach Quincy Lewis pumping out college-bound athletes left and right, Jackson felt playing for the Knights was his opportunity to create exposure and win.
"I was willing to sacrifice leaving my friends and coming to this school," Jackson said. "It's definitely paid off."
Jackson studied underneath then-senior T.J. Haws as a sophomore, and the two helped Lone Peak capture its fourth consecutive championship.
But Jackson didn't stop after the season. His life is basketball. This past summer he attended "five, maybe six" camps spread across the nation.
"Every weekend I was gone," Jackson said. "It was tough because I wanted to stay here and play."
Yet he kept the "ultimate goal" in the back of his mind.
"I'm a competitive person," Jackson said. "It's a lot of sacrifice, but at the end of the day it's still fun. I'm playing basketball 24/7. I enjoy it. It's something I love to do, so it's a burning desire to be successful at it."
As the No. 1 option as a junior and senior, Jackson's teams were eliminated in the Class 5A quarterfinals, one of the main critiques of his prestigious career. In his final high school game, he scored 38 points in a loss to Copper Hills, including 20 of the 22 points in the first half.
"It's disappointing. Yeah, we came up short, but honestly I wouldn't want to have it any other way with any other guys," Jackson said. "Lone Peak has had a history of great players. I'm glad I was able to be a part of it and be able to represent the school. I had fun and I know the rest of the guys had fun."
Jackson leaves for North Carolina at the end of June and is expected to move into his new home at Duke on July 3. It's the end of an era for one of the best high school players the state has ever seen, but Jackson will continue to cherish the memories and adhere to the lessons he learned at Lone Peak.
"It was fun. Something I'll never forget," Jackson said. "It's taught me a lot, not only about basketball, but about life as well. It's not easy. You have your ups and downs, but you can always fight through stuff. I'll miss it. It was definitely fun and something I'm very fortunate I experienced."
About Frank Jackson
School • Lone Peak
Class • Senior
Position • Guard
Height • 6-foot-4
Weight • 195 pounds
Noteworthy • Jackson averaged 28.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game this season. Rated as a five-star recruit, who is signed to play at Duke, he is one of the most coveted players to ever suit up locally. He became the seventh player in state history to reach 2,000 career points, finishing with 2,079, which ranks sixth all-time, while being named the first McDonald's All-American from Utah since 2000.