I’ve always had a soft spot for Darnell Jackson. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player grow up so much in four years. There were times his first two years where he looked lost - he always gave it his best, it just didn’t seem like he would ever be a rotation player. I can’t remember which year his mother and grandmother were in that horrible car wreck, but he was a man on a mission after that. Hitting the gym harder than anyone, listening to Coach more than anyone, keeping his focus even when the minutes weren’t there.
Once he got his opportunity, he was probably as mature as anyone I’ve seen at KU. That was a grown man out there, with the soul of someone twice his age. He wasn’t as athletically gifted as say, Darrell Arthur, but he more than made up for it with his effort and quiet leadership. He developed into the greatest “garbage man” that KU has ever had (with apologies to Richard Scott, Tarik Black, Kevin Young, Jeff Graves, etc.). I was so proud to see the look on his face while the confetti rained down in the Alamodome. That was a great team, but nobody in that building deserved that ring more.