The best thing about Pine Bluff native Juliet Jackson being named a Southeastern Conference Legend isn’t the all-expense paid trip to the SEC women’s tournament March 5-9 in Duluth, Ga.
It isn’t the chance to be honored at halftime of the Razorbacks’ first game of the tournament. It isn’t even the opportunity to be honored at Arkansas’ final home game of the season against Missouri on March 2. It’s a DVD she will be given when she attends the UA-MU game.
Jackson said the DVD would fulfill a wish she’s had for several years.
“My daughter has always said she wishes she could have seen me play,” Jackson said. “When they honor me in Fayetteville, they said they were going to give me a DVD of me playing.
“So that will let her see me, which is something I’ve always wanted to show her.”
Jackson, who attended UA from 1986-90, said the call she received to be part of the 14-member class was “a long time coming.”
“I was very happy when they called,” she said. “Even though we didn’t get to play in the conference (Arkansas was in the Southwest Conference at the time she was there).
“It’s special to be honored with the best in the SEC.”
In her four years at Arkansas (1986-90), Jackson was a member on two of the most successful teams in school history.
Her freshman year, the Razorbacks won the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, including a 112-80 rout of California in the championship game.
Jackson was the lone senior on the ‘89-90 team when Arkansas ended Texas’ NCAA-record 183-game conference winning streak and also the nation’s longest active home win streak at 47 games.
The 82-77 win aided by Jackson’s four clutch free throws helped Arkansas to a 12-1 road record, which helped earn the program’s first share of a SWC regular-season title.
In the NCAA tournament that season, seventh-seeded Arkansas beat UCLA in overtime before upsetting Georgia, thanks to Jackson’s 30 points, and Stephen F. Austin to reach the Elite Eight. Arkansas fell short of the Final Four, though, losing to eventual champion Stanford, 114-87.
“I enjoyed all of my time spent (in Fayetteville),” Jackson said. “I would have to say my senior year was the best. It was the year we beat Texas to end their big winning streak and the year we went to the Elite Eight.”
Jackson, a two-time SWC second-team honoree, currently sits in the top 20 in Arkansas history in both points and assists.
She scored a total of 1,213 points — 17th in UA career history — averaging 10.1 points per game. The 5-foot-3 point guard ranks 11th in career assists with 313.
At Pine Bluff High School, Jackson racked up numerous honors.
In 1984, she earned all-America honors as a sophomore in track and field running the 4x400. On the court, she was the Gatorade player of the year for Arkansas, a Parade Magazine All-American, and an All-American by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
Jackson is arguably the most decorated women’s athlete in Pine Bluff High history, but the moment that changed her life came in junior high.
“It started back in my ninth grade year,” she said. “I was playing a game up in Benton, Arkansas, and I met coach Jim Tyler.
“He is one of the coaches that got me interested in playing AAU ball. That’s what really changed my future.”
Thanks to donations made at Pine Bluff area banks, the following summer Jackson and Tyler’s Arkansas Angels AAU team played basketball in Sweden, Finland and Norway.
In 1985, Jackson averaged 24 points a game for the Angels as she earned Most Valuable Player of the 18-and-under national AAU Tournament in Fairfax, Va.
Jackson said she coached AAU for six or seven years, but had to give it up when she took a new job at the Arkansas Community Corrections facility in Pine Bluff.
“I really enjoyed coaching the girls,” she said. “But with my job I can’t just get off and travel as easily.
“I still have people come up to me asking if I can coach their kid or at least work with them individually, but it’s impossible with the job I have.
“Through coaching AAU, I think I have given that much back to the community that it gave to me.”