Crane's Jackson is a Hall of Famer

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Crane's Jackson is a Hall of Famer

James Jackson probably won't be able to attend the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Association's annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 12 at the Hawthorne Race Track in Cicero.

He lives in Australia.

A 1974 graduate of Crane, Jackson is one of 13 former players who will be inducted in the Hall of Fame class of 2012. Others include King's Efrem Winters and Laurent Crawford, Vocational's Allen Hunt, South Shore's Bobby Joor, Carver's Ken Maxey, Hubbard's Reggie Rose and Kenwood's Donnie Von Moore.

Other inductees include coaches Mike Oliver of Curie and John Costello of Bowen, Washington's Dejeanette Flournoy, Leslie Hill and Angelina Williams, Fenger's Shujuana Shannon, Whitney Young's Cindy Connor and two boys teams, Crane 1972 and South Shore 1947.

Jackson grew up at 14th and Throop, known as "the village." From an early age, he played basketball with his brothers Thomas and Melvin. He idolized his brothers, Larry Foster and Jerome Freeman, another future Crane star. At Medill elementary school, he knew he had a gift for the game.

Crane coach Dan Davis recruited Jackson out of Medill. He spoke to Jackson's mother and promised her that her son would graduate from high school. Mount Carmel tried to lure Jackson but he never wavered in his decision to attend Crane. His older brothers went there and he was enthralled by stories of the great players who came from Crane.

He got off to a shaky start. As a sophomore, when Nate Williams led Crane to the Elite Eight and a trip to Champaign, he was unable to play because he suffered a chipped bone in his knee. He had to sit on the bench and watch all the games.

Jackson started a few games as a freshman and was paired with playground legend Arthur Sivels, who dropped out of school after his freshman year. "As a player, he was one of the best I ever played with. He passed the ball, scored and dribbled. He could have been NBA material," James said.

As a junior and senior, Jackson developed into one of the best players in the Public League. He played against Rickey Green, Bo Ellis, Sonny Parker, Billy Lewis, Andre Wakefield and Maurice Cheeks.

As his reputation grew, college coaches began to take notice. Gene Bartow, who coached at Memphis State, Illinois and UCLA, recruited Jackson as a junior (for Memphis) and a senior (for Illinois). He had several offers from Big 10 and ACC schools. He also was approached by Jerry Tarkanian of Nevada-Las Vegas.

But he ended up at Minnesota. "Jimmy Williams, the assistant coach, showed a lot of interest in me. It was a Big 10 school and I always wanted to play in the Big 10," he said.

He signed with Minnesota but left when the Gophers were placed on probation by the NCAA and transferred to Boston College. But he wasn't happy on the East Coast and returned to Minnesota. "I should have gone to Nevada-Las Vegas," he said in retrospect.

In 1979, he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls but wasn't in good physical condition and didn't perform well in training camp. He played with the Alberta Dusters of the Continental Basketball Association. After one year, he returned to Minneapolis. Then he got a call to go to Australia.

"I got a call from Dick Rymer, an American coach who had been living in Australia for a number of years," James recalled. "He ran into one of my assistant coaches at Minnesota, Jesse Evans, in an airport and the spoke about me. That's how it all came about."

From 1982 to 1991, Jackson played with several clubs in Queensland and Western Australia. He conducted basketball clinics in some of the most remote towns in the outback of Western Australia for the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Department of Western Australia. He also has worked in retail and owned his own sporting goods store.

He married Romana in 1992. In 2000, when their son Jamal was 5 years old, he reconnected with basketball. He has coached and been involved with clubs in Western Australia and Queensland ever since. They live on the Gold Coast.

For the past seven years, he has worked for a traffic control company and has served as an assistant coach on his son's Under 18 team in the Premier League.

He still marvels at how a young kid from the West Side of Chicago could end up on the Gold Coast of Australia, all because he had an extraordinary ability to play the game of basketball.

"I had never heard of Australia. 'Where is that?' I said," Jackson recalled. "How many times do you get a round-trip ticket to another country? I'm still there today. It blew me away...laidback lifestyle, friendly people, nobody in a rush about anything, great climate, nice place to bring up a family, totally different than the United States.

"Life has been pretty good for me. I have no regret that I didn't make it in the NBA. I believe in fate. I ended up in Australia. My wife is Australian. The normal temperature in Brisbane is 70 degrees. I never see snow. People think I'm crazy when I say I appreciate snow."

Former four-star quarterback Dwayne Lawson commits to Illini after year away from Virginia Tech

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AP

Former four-star quarterback Dwayne Lawson commits to Illini after year away from Virginia Tech

Staring down a decision between Chayce Crouch and Jeff George Jr. as Wes Lunt's successor next season, the Illini perhaps got a new frontrunner Monday.

Dwayne Lawson, a former four-star recruit who spent the 2015 season with Virginia Tech, tweeted that he will be joining Lovie Smith's Illinois program as a junior college transfer next season. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining.

Lawson is big and athletic, a dual-threat quarterback at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds much different in style from Lunt, who played his last game in an Illinois uniform two weekends ago in a season-ending loss to Northwestern.

Lawson spent the past season at Garden City Community College in Kansas after leaving the Virginia Tech program in August. He played sparingly as a freshman during the 2015 campaign, appearing in five games and rushing for 55 yards and a touchdown while throwing just nine passes and completing only three for 51 yards.

When Virginia Tech announced Lawson's departure in August, the Roanoke Times reported that he failed a drug test and could have been suspended.

But after a season in Kansas, he's returning to a Power Five conference program, with Illini Inquirer saying Lawson is expected to arrive in Champaign in July after completing his second semester at junior college.

It's certainly a shift in style for the Illini. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recruited another dual-threat quarterback, Cameron Thomas — a three-star recruit from Marian Catholic — earlier this year. Remember that McGee's previous stop before coming to Champaign with Smith was Louisville, where he coached current Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.

While Lawson won't be joining the Illini until right before summer camp, he could be the frontrunner for the starting job. Crouch and George saw a good deal of time this season while Lunt battled injuries. Crouch impressed at times, particularly with his legs, rushing for 137 yards in a loss to Purdue. George struggled mightily seeing his first collegiate action, like when he thre four interceptions in a loss to Wisconsin. He did pass for 140 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Michigan State.

Blackhawks switch up lines vs. Coyotes

Blackhawks switch up lines vs. Coyotes

Jonathan Toews will miss his seventh consecutive game and Scott Darling will make his third consecutive start when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes Tuesday night at the United Center.

Toews is not skating right now; he last skated briefly on Sunday morning. Coach Joel Quenneville is hopeful that Toews can get back on the ice later this week. As of now, it looks like Toews could return when the Blackhawks go on their New York trip.

The Blackhawks made some lineup changes, including moving Marcus Kruger up with Ryan Hartman and Marian Hossa. It’s an attempt to get more offense; the Blackhawks have just two goals in their previous two games.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“We’ve had some lines the last couple of games and we haven’t generated enough,” Quenneville said. “Hopefully we get more offense and threat to score on not just the one line.”

Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy on Saturday, has already started doing a few exercises. Quenneville said, “hopefully [Crawford] will be in his equipment next week and we’ll get a better assessment as to when” he’ll return.

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.

TV: CSN

Live Stream: CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports App

Blackhawks lines

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger -Marian Hossa

Tyler Motte-Dennis Rasmussen-Richard Panik

Andrew Desjardins-Vinnie Hinostroza-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairings

Duncan Keith-Brian Campbell

Trevor van Riemsdyk-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Goaltender

Scott Darling

Injuries

Jonathan Toews (upper body), Corey Crawford (appendix)

Coyotes lines (via Arizona Republic)

Tobias Rieder-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata

Max Domi-Christian Dvorak-Shane Doan

Brendan Perlini-Jordan Martinook-Jamie McGinn

Lawson Crouse-Tyler Gaudet-Ryan White

Defensive pairings

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Connor Murphy

Alex Goligoski-Michael Stone

Jakob Chychrun-Luke Schenn

Goaltender

Mike Smith