TAMPA — Chloe Jackson approached the microphone the day before the Baylor Lady Bears’ semifinal game against Oregon and spoke about the team’s mindset.
“We’re not content,” she said. “[We] just want to keep pushing, [and] stay focused to win a championship.”
That has been her mentality since she’s played college basketball. She’s been a student-athlete at three different programs: North Carolina State, LSU and Baylor. Each university presented different experiences and coaching styles. Not to mention, she’s also had to watch from the sidelines for two years due to a fractured foot and the NCAA’s transfer rule.
After playing as a shooting guard, she’s become the Lady Bears’ only true point guard. On Saturday, she opened up about some of the difficulties she’s had while making the switch.
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“I had to learn the system, learn the plays,” she said. She also mentioned the difficulty of having to command the offense, stating that coach Kim Mulkey was “on [her] all the time in practice about being that vocal leader.”
“Her personality is not where she’s a big talker,” Mulkey said about the first graduate transfer in program history. “So, I had to teach her to open her mouth [and] communicate. Had to do it quickly. That kid, what she has done, is amazing.”
“She had a hard time when she first got here,” teammate Juicy Landrum added. “But she embraced coach. She would get a little mad when coach would yell. But, since the beginning of the season she has fought through some tough things.”
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Mulkey continued to talk about Jackson and what she brings to Baylor’s offense.
“She – in my opinion – she’s one of the best midrange shooters that I’ve ever coached. I would have to think in the country. When Chloe misses a shot, you’re surprised. She keeps shooting, and she hits those big shots in the clutch for you.”
That sentiment proved true during the Lady Bears’ game against Oregon. While she didn’t have the best night in terms of shooting percentage, her clutch basket in the paint with 0:41 remaining in regulation put Baylor in the lead for good.
“She hit a real vital shot that we needed,” teammate Didi Richards said about the play. When asked about what kind of leadership and poise Jackson brought to the team this season, Richards said she “has been the role model athlete that we needed.”
“She came in and tried to be a part of everything right away,” Lauren Cox added. “Some people stand on the outside and see where they might fit in. But Chloe was like, ‘oh, y’all are going to eat? Let me come too!’ She was trying to get in with us wherever she could. I think that’s what made us click so quickly.” Both Cox and Jackson also noted the chemistry developed during the team’s summer beach volleyball sessions.
As the interviews ended, Jackson – whose final game as a student-athlete is for a national championship – expressed why she chose to play for the Lady Bears in her last season of eligibility.
“I wanted to win,” she said confidently. “I wanted coach Mulkey to push me to become the best player that I can be, and she’s really done that. I couldn’t have written a better story.”
Jackson and the Lady Bears hope to fend off last year’s champion Notre Dame to bring the trophy back to Baylor for the first time in seven years.
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