Amsterdam’s Jackson played big role in UConn’s national championship win

A basketball player is greeted by his coach

Andre Jackson, Jr., gets a head pat from assistant coach Luke Murray during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament against Saint Mary’s at MVP Arena in Albany on March 19.

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AMSTERDAM – Amsterdam native Andre Jackson Jr., a 6-foot-6 starting guard for the University of Connecticut, became the first Capital Region person to win a Division I men’s basketball championship since Columbia graduate Craig Forth, who did so with Syracuse University in 2003 as a sophomore. Monday night, UConn defeated San Diego State 76-59 before 72,423 fans at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Here are some interesting facts about Jackson, a junior and co-captain, and the win:


Jackson’s line for the game was as follows: 34 minutes, 1-3 from the field, including 0-1 on 3-pointers, 1-2 from the foul line, three rebounds, three fouls, six assists, two turnovers and two steals. His 34 minutes and six assists were both game highs, and his two steals tied two others for a team high.

Remarkably, Jackson’s 34 minutes place him fifth among Capital Region players who played in championship games. Linton graduate Pat Riley played all 40 minutes in Kentucky’s loss to Texas Western in 1966. Shaker graduate Sam Perkins played 39 minutes in North Carolina’s loss to Indiana in 1981, and 38 in the Tar Heels’ win over Georgetown. Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons’ Dick Grubar played 35 for North Carolina in the Tar Heels’ 1968 loss to UCLA.


Jackson delivered the assist to Adama Sanogo to put UConn ahead for good, 12-10, at 13:55 of the first half.

He also scored the Huskies’ final point of the game on his free throw with 30 seconds left. His only field goal came at 16:51 of the first half, allowing UConn to close San Diego State’s lead to 8-6.


Jackson became the Capital Region’s first player to have won both a New York State Federation championship — he did so twice in Class A with Albany Academy – and an NCAA Division I championship.


Jackson’s family, including his mother, Tricia Altieri, was on hand to see the big win. Former Albany Academy coach Brian Fruscio also was in attendance. Altieri had told The Daily Gazette’s Adam Shinder before the Final Four, “For him to see this, it’s so exciting, because that’s been his goal. From day one, going into UConn, it was, ‘Mom, I want to win the championship.’ ” 


Jackson’s championship run was made sweeter by the fact that the postseason run started in Albany, one of the sites for the first two rounds. At the MVP Arena, UConn beat Iona 87-63 on March 17, and St. Mary’s (Cal.) 70-55 on March 19.

Jackson knew how important it was that he remain professional and focused despite being three miles from his high school and 29 miles from his hometown.

“I can always come to Albany,” Jackson said, “know what I mean? That’s where I live. But I can’t always come back to March Madness and be in the biggest opportunity of my life. This opportunity comes once, and you’ve got to take advantage of it.”


Naturally, the reaction to Jackson’s accomplishment was joyful and plentiful.

Former pro and youth basketball coach Steve Dagostino wrote on his Twitter page Tuesday, “Congratulations to Andre and @UConnMBB for winning a National Championship!! Thank you for showing us how to be Coachable, Resilient, Selfless, and a Leader. The Basketball World needs more players like you!!”

Fox Sports’ Aaron Torres posted a photo of former UConn player and professional basketball player Emeka Okafor congratulating Jackson, saying he overheard Okafor tell him, “I’m proud of you.”

Fox College Hoops’ John Fanta interviewed Jackson after the win, and posted one of his remarks on Twitter, “To do this at UConn, I would not want to do this anywhere else. That’s why I came here.”

Jonathan Givony, an NBA Draft analyst at ESPN, wrote on Twitter, “Andre Jackson’s fingerprints were all over UConn’s national championship game win with the way he picked apart San Diego State’s defense seeing over the top, getting the ball where it needs to be and igniting the break off the defensive glass and spraying passes everywhere.”


David Borges, the UConn beat writer for CT Insider, posted Jackson’s quote about the possibility of returning next season: “If Coach Hurley wants me back, I’ll be back!”

Joe Arruda, who covers UConn men’s basketball and football, posted Jackson’s comment, “Now I want to get another one while I’m here. … only way I’m not coming back is if Coach tells me to leave.”


There were plenty of draft analysts, some more official than others, projecting where Jackson should be picked if he does decide to test the waters. @GlobalScouting_, the draft analyst for Sports Illustrated, wrote on Twitter, “Andre Jackson has been unreal this game with his two-way impact. There’s a valid argument for him as one of the top passing wings in the draft. Feel for the game is off the charts.”

Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.

By Will Springstead

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