A year and a half ago, Jeff Walz added a high-scoring UCF transfer, Briahanna Jackson. After transferring for personal reasons and sitting out 2014-2015, Jackson came into the last season more than ready to be back on the court.
It did not take long for Jackson to win the hearts of Cardinal fans. She is electric and fun to watch on the court.
Jackson started 33 of 34 games in her first year as a Cardinal, averaging 11.1 points, four rebounds, 2.8 assists, and two steals. An All-ACC academic team selection, Jackson ranked seventh in the conference in steals.
The team ended their season with a 26-8 record and 15-1 in conference. The strong finished put U of L eighth in the nation and second in the ACC. This year, the Cards are preseason ranked fifth in the nation.
Although Card fans are excited about the rankings, Jackson says the ranking doesn’t mean anything to her.
“It’s not something we really talk about or focus on,” Jackson said. “It’s nice to know that our program is still respected after a disappointing season last year, but it’s the last thing on our minds.”
The Louisville team is full of experience – returning all five starters; however, despite an impressive record the team had a lot to work on.
“Our team has improved in every way possible,” Jackson said. “Our skill set, and our mental and physical parts of the game. We are hungrier and we are working harder to fill that empty feeling left after our lost last year.”
Jackson also stated a big part of the improvement has come from, “the leadership that has stepped up.”
“Last year that was absent,” Jackson said. “We have changed our standards and the freshman have adapted well into our new culture.”
Jackson, along with most of the team, spent the summer in Louisville trying to perfect their skills.
“We’ve been working individually on our own skills so that as a whole we can be better.”
Jackson is very high on the overall talent of the team.
“With the talent we have, we will get open shots and we need to make those shots. We’ve spent a lot of time in the gym this summer,” Jackson said. “Our coaches have been working as well finding an offensive and a defensive fit to take advantage of our depth and talent.”
With the returning talent and added newcomers, fans have their eyes set on another Final Four trip and potentially a national title game. Fans aren’t the only ones with this in mind.
“We have very high expectations,” Jackson said. “Our goal is to make it to Dallas, the Final Four, and anything less is a disappointment.”
Surprisingly, Jackson said she doesn’t have any personal goals to achieve this season.
“Coach Walz has respectfully said that individual success comes from team success. So I remain focused on the team and reaching the Final Four,” Jackson said.
Post college, Jackson wants to stay in the basketball world.
“I plan to play professionally in the WNBA and overseas,” Jackson said. “And hopefully coaching after her playing years.”
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal