A two-sport athlete out of Marshall High School, TiAndre Jackson-Young was faced with a decision — basketball or track and field?
He received offers to compete collegiately for each sport but ultimately decided to continue his basketball career, leaving his long-jumping days behind.
Now in his senior year at UTA, Jackson-Young will compete as both a forward for the men’s basketball team and as a jumper for the track and field team.
He said a fan convinced him to contact Brandon Berger, track and field associate head coach, about joining the team. Berger later invited Jackson-Young out to a practice and he immediately hit it off with the team.
At Marshall High School, Jackson-Young enjoyed success in both sports. In 2016, he was named the Y.A. Tittle Male Athlete of the Year, averaging 31.2 points and 11 rebounds per game throughout his senior year. He also finished in second place at the 2016 University Interscholastic League Class 5A state championship in the long jump.
Even though he is nearly four years removed from high school, having the experience should help Jackson-Young as he tries to balance both sports, Berger said.
“To have at least some kind of background and to have competed at a high level definitely helps,” Berger said. “Not having to start from ground zero with the kid was good. Him having the desire to want to get up there and see what else he could achieve is really the big thing.”
Chris Ogden, men’s basketball head coach, said he was completely on board when John Sauerhage, track and field head coach, asked him about letting Jackson-Young join his squad.
“TiAndre is a great athlete, he’s such a good kid that I knew he could handle both,” Ogden said. “I knew he wouldn’t disrupt their team; I knew it wouldn’t disrupt our team.”
Heading into the 2019-20 basketball season, Jackson-Young knows he will have to think of ways to handle his workload.
He won’t compete in indoor track because it conflicts with the basketball team’s stretch of Sun Belt Conference matchups.
Ogden said he originally let Jackson-Young focus on his secondary sport heading into the summer.
“I think it’s good sometimes, guys take breaks from their full-time sport and go still train, still be in shape in a different sport,” Ogden said. “I think it’s healthy.”
In turn, Berger believes the training Jackson-Young does in basketball is keeping him in top form for the spring. He isn’t giving the two-sport athlete any different exercises to prepare for the long jump.
“He doesn’t have to be in any kind of physical track shape, he’s getting all that running up and down the court,” Berger said. “He’s getting everything he needs on the basketball court.”
As he enters his final basketball season at UTA, one of Jackson-Young’s goals is to lead the Mavericks to not only a conference championship, but their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2008.
Berger said he can also see Jackson-Young helping the track and field team during its conference meet in the spring.
“He can definitely make the final school points to help us try to compete for a conference title,” Berger said.