HUNTINGTON — Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni has filled the opening on his staff with the addition of Cornelius Jackson as an assistant coach. Jackson, who played at Marshall from 1998-2001, most recently was at Cleveland State and brings more than 10 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Thundering Herd.
With this hiring, Marshall now has two of the top point guards in Thundering Herd history on the staff. D’Antoni led the Herd break at the point from 1966-69, pushing the Herd to two NIT appearances and a NIT Final Four in 1967 — although D’Antoni played in an era when assists were not kept as an official stat. Jackson gathered 518 assists at Marshall in three years, fourth all-time for the Herd behind only Danny’s younger brother Mike (659, three years), Greg White (701 assists in four years) and Sam Henry (519 in four years).
Those two will have a Herd team for next year with Jon Elmore, who is trying to get an eligibility year back in his transfer from VMI to have two years left and who in just 60 games has posted 352 assists already to be No. 11 all-time. In addition, the incoming freshman point from Notre Dame in Clarksburg, W.Va., Jarrod West, is the heir apparent to Elmore when the senior/junior finishes his time at Marshall and averaged 5.0 assists per game in leading his team to a state championship, coached by his father Jarrod West, who played basketball at WVU.
Elmore and departed senior guard, Stevie Browning of Logan, W.Va., tagged the Marshall team as the “304 Boys” for the number of in-state products on D’Antoni’s staff. Now, add another as Oak Hill native Jackson joins D’Antoni (Mullens), fellow assistant coach Mark Cline (Williamson), Jon and Ot Elmore (Charleston), Jacob Kilgore (Huntington), CJ Burks (Martinsburg), Wake Forest transfer Rondale Watson (Lewisburg), Phil Bledsoe (Wheeling) and incoming frosh West (Clarksburg) — who won the Bill Evans Award as the top high school player in the state.
“We are excited about the addition of Cornelius Jackson as an assistant coach at Marshall,” D’Antoni said. “Cornelius is a Marshall legend and understands the culture and what we are trying to accomplish here. I’ve been impressed with what he has done in each coaching role he has had from Tennessee-Martin to Cleveland State.
“He brings a tremendous coaching resume to our program, along with a vast amount of experience in the area of recruiting and developing players. Cornelius shares the same vision we have of being a great program that develops student-athletes. We are very happy and excited to welcome him back home.”
During his four seasons at Cleveland State, Jackson helped the program to 58 wins and a pair of berths in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament. Jackson worked with the Viking big men on the court and is also responsible for helping to oversee the game preparation, scouting and recruiting.
In 2011-12 at UT-Martin, Jackson oversaw the development of Myles Taylor who was the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year and also earned a spot on the all-newcomer team. In his first season as the recruiting coordinator, Jackson secured one of the top classes in program history as UT-Martin’s freshmen trio combined to win eight Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week awards, marking just the third time that one school earned that many mentions in a single season since the league created the award in 1978-79.
In 2010-11, UT-Martin tripled its win total from the previous season and earned its first-ever OVC Tournament victory with Jackson on staff. His final two seasons at Tennessee-Martin, Jackson served as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.
Prior to joining the staff at UT Martin, Jackson was an assistant coach at West Virginia State University for six years (2003-09), working on the staff of former Marshall assistant Brian Poore (under Greg White. 1996-99) with the Yellow Jackets. Jackson was responsible for all recruiting and scheduling at West Virginia State University while coordinating the video film exchange, scouting opponents and assisting with the development of game plans.
He was part of five teams that won at least 20 games and captured three NCAA Division II Tournament bids. During his six seasons at West Virginia State, Jackson was part of 148 wins, including back-to-back conference championships for the first time in school history.
Jackson signed with Tennessee out of high school and started 20-of-27 games for the Vols as a freshman. He transferred to Marshall, where he was the starting point guard and team captain for three years. He was also the only Herd player to start every game during his career, leading the Mid-American Conference in assists as a junior and senior. He led the Herd to 18-9 record as a senior (12-6 in the MAC), to a mark of 21-9 (11-7) and reaching the MAC Tournament semifinals as a junior and to a 16-11 (11-7) mark as a sophomore, playing with Marshall Hall of Fame players Tamar Slay and JR VanHoose as well as Joda Burgess, Enoch Bunch, Latece Williams, Monty Wright, Carlton King, VonDale Morton, Josh Perkey, Derrick Wright and Travis Young.
Jackson hit 107 threes at Marshall (20th all-time) on 301 attempts (22nd), with the still 24th best three-point shooting percentage of 35.5% and is 14th in steals (117 over three seasons). His 6.2 assists per game (84 games in three seasons) is tied with Greg White for second (113 games) in Marshall history only to Mike D’Antoni, who averaged 8.2 assists per game (80 games) among the leaders in assists (Elmore is averaging 5.9 assists per game so far in his 60 games played).
After graduation, Jackson was drafted by the Roanoke Dazzle of the National Basketball Development League (NBA D-League). He also played professionally in Germany and Austria.
Jackson was a High School All-American and the West Virginia high school Player of the Year in 1996 when he averaged 28.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.8 assists at Oak Hill High School. Jackson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Marshall.
He has twin 15-year old daughters, Tiarra and Valessa Jackson, who are sophomores at St. Albans (W.Va.) High School and play basketball for the Red Dragons. Valessa averages 3.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a 5-7 small forward getting 11 minutes per game. Tiarra is a 5-9 guard who played 23 minutes per game and averaged 3.0 points, 2.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. They help lead the St. Albans team to a 13-10 mark last season for Coach Scott James, who is a Marshall graduate as well.