The way Jackson remembers it, Kim Mulkey’s pitch was simple. She didn’t promise playing time, but she guaranteed Jackson would become a better player at Baylor.
Considering Mulkey’s resume – a champion as a player and a coach – and the fact that she’s had several players drafted by WNBA teams, Jackson was all-in for her last campaign in college basketball to be in Waco, Texas.
“(Mulkey) was just real,” Jackson said. “And the goals we had were mutual.”
Still, Jackson was unsure of her role coming into a Lady Bears team that made the Sweet 16 in 2018. Alexis Morris was due to return as a sophomore, and as a freshman she filled in as a starter for an injured Kristy Wallace. Jackson figured she could play both guard spots and help the team wherever they needed her.
As it turned out, that need was starting at point guard. Morris was dismissed from the team in September. According to a NJ.com report, Morris was arrested for an alleged misdemeanor assault charge that month in San Marcos, Texas. She has since transferred to Rutgers.
Suddenly, Jackson was about to be tasked with a big role for the Lady Bears. She would start at a position she didn’t have much experience playing, for a team that had championship aspirations.
“I didn’t have any type of crash course, or any type of practice. But, (Mulkey) is just a great coach,” Jackson said. “She started on me as soon as I got there, just learning the point guard position, teaching me how to be a leader and how to be strong with the ball. She really gave me all the points that I needed to be a great player.”
It didn’t take long for Jackson to adjust. On Dec. 2 at then-ranked No. 18 South Carolina, she dropped 19 points and seven assists while turning the ball over just twice in a convincing 25-point win. A month later, at home against the mighty UConn Huskies, she had zero turnovers in 38 minutes of play while piling up 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals in a victory.
Last season at LSU, Jackson totaled 67 assists in 29 games. She’s nearly tripled that number this year, dishing out 189, and still counting.
“I couldn’t have gotten those assists without my teammates, them being 6-foot-7 (Kalani Brown) and 6-foot-4 (Lauren Cox) in the post,” Jackson said. “That makes it a lot easier.”
Baylor is second in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (+1.73) and first in assists per-game (22.7). Jackson is a big reason why.
“Her passes keep getting better. You think you’ve seen all that she has and then she does something else. We’re on the bench like, ‘Man, Chloe is amazing. Did you see that?’” Baylor sophomore Moon Ursin said. “Chloe brings Chloe. She’s a special kid, inside and out, one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. On the court, she just brings heart. Her ability to push the ball, her ability to make passes, her jump shot is unbelievable. You would think she’s been here all five years; her chemistry is amazing. She’s an incredible basketball player.”
Now Jackson and Baylor are in Tampa, two wins away from being national champions.
First up is a meeting with Oregon and the stellar Sabrina Ionescu. If the Lady Bears come out on top, a meeting with Notre Dame or UConn awaits them.
If Jackson gets to dance in the bright lights and confetti once more on Sunday night, one thing is certain: She won’t need to be told where to make her cut on the nylon.
“It started when we won the Big 12. I always ask like, ‘Where do I cut it?’ Because I’m just not used to cutting down nets,” Jackson said. “But (the Elite Eight) was my third time. So, I think if we cut them down again, I won’t have to ask again where to cut it.”
Love our 24/7 women’s basketball coverage? Join our Patreon now and support this work, while getting extra goodies and subscriber-only content for yourself.