McDonald's All American diary: Michigan State signee Jaren Jackson Jr.

In the days leading up to the McDonald’s All American Games in Chicago, USA TODAY High School Sports will be catching up with various players to talk about their experiences. In this entry, we talk to Michigan State signee Jaren Jackson a 6-11 power forward from La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.). He is ranked as the No. 16 player overall and No. 3 at his position by ESPN.  From the McDonald’s game, Jackson and La Lumiere teammate Brian Bowen will head to New York for the first round of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Nationals. La Lumiere plays Wasatch Academy (Utah) at 6 p.m. ET.

Jaren Jackson (Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

Everything has been going great and it’s all been so cool.

I drove straight from LaPorte to Chicago on Sunday and it’s been busy. When we got here, we signed some basketballs, stopped in to see the players’ lounge, got to see where the meals were going to be set out for us, got our shoes, got measured for our suits – just the whole shebang.

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We got to eat a little something, got to chill out with the guys before we went to our first practice. That was about an hour and a half, pretty light. It wasn’t too much, just to get your feet wet, get to know everybody.  Then we came back, had a little time to ourselves before we went to sleep.  We had to get up early the next week.

For Day 2, went to the gym, had a two-hour practice, more up and down, more competing with each other. It was fun. After that we went to the Ronald McDonald House and we got to do some charity work with the kids. It’s something to be there yourself and see everybody. Then we went to the JamFest.

A little more sleep and then we had to wake up again for practice. We did media interviews  and then we just had our first scrimmage.  It was the first time playing against the other team. I’m more worried about myself and my team in general, but everyone on my team has been playing well.  We played as hard as we could today and we’re trying to go get a win Wednesday.

We’re all good players, so coming together isn’t as difficult as it seems as it is. Everyone knows how to play with each other.  We just know the chemistry so we’ll be able to go out there and perform on Wednesday.

We get a little bit in between events or before we go to sleep we get time here and there. It’s been nice to spend a couple hours to hang out with each other and it’s all laughs.

I just want to go out there and have fun, play hard, nothing too special.  I’m here now so that’s the main thing, just to make it to the game. But I’m trying to make sure I compete as well as I can.

La Lumiere School’s Jaren Jackson is heading to DICK’S Nationals after the McDonald’s game (Photo: Gregory Payan, USA TODAY Sports)

This week is probably different for me than it is for other people because La Lumiere is still playing. There are a few other guys who are in DICK’S, so they’re still playing too. They’re probably pretty loose.

There’ll be a lot of stress, but we’re ready for it. We play Thursday night in New York so we’re going to leave either after the game or early Thursday morning to meet everyone. The team is already going to be in New York.

I wasn’t with them last year but we’re trying to redeem ourselves from last year. It was heartbreaking to lose on a tip-in at the end to Oak Hill in the final. The other guys talk about it a little bit, but we already know what we’ve got to do.

Oak Hill is just another team in the tournament so we don’t have blinders up just focusing on Oak Hill.  We’re just worried about getting there in general and winning the whole thing.

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