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Local legend, Bill Jackman, puts up a jump shot during his basketball career with the Nebraska Huskers. Jackman played for the Huskers from 1984 to 1987. 

Where are they now? Bill Jackman

Bill Jackman’s 214 point-scoring record in the Nebraska high school boys state basketball tournament still reigns. He scored 1,768 high school career points, 749 in a single season.

Jackman is more than just a great basketball player and avid businessman–he is a local legend.

Jackman was one of five sons born to Peggy and the late Herb Jackman of Grant. He graduated from Perkins County High School in 1982.

According to Jackman, his family had a long history in Grant and were original homesteaders in the area.

He grew up on Sherman Avenue, just a few blocks from the high school, as did each of his cousins. 

During high school, Jackman was a standout athlete. Although he played on three Class C-2 football championship teams, it was his 6-foot-8 stature and undeniable basketball skills that most people remember. 

Jackman helped lead the Plainsmen to two Class C state basketball championships his junior and senior year, as well as a 52-game winning streak, solidifying him in Plainsmen history. 

After high school, Jackman signed to play basketball at Duke University under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. 

“I played against Michael Jordan and held him to just 32 points,” he joked.

Following his freshman year with the Blue Devils, where he scored 82 points and 44 rebounds, Jackman transferred back to his home state and played for the University of Nebraska for three seasons. 

As a Husker, Jackman scored 500 points, 318 rebounds and 101 assists throughout his career.

“I loved Duke and I loved Nebraska. I still stay in touch with Coach K and Coach Danny Nee and am still friends with a lot of my basketball teammates,” he said.

After his years in Nebraska, Jackman recalled his head coach, Danny Nee, telling him that he was an All-American academic, but not an All-American basketball player. 

“He said ‘you’re a better student than an athlete,’ which hurt my basketball ego,” Jackman said with a laugh. “But he said ‘you should start your career.’ So I did.” 

Nee encouraged Jackman to leave Nebraska, knowing if Jackman stayed in Nebraska, he would be plenty successful as a former Nebraska athlete, but wanted him to experience success on his own merit.

“You can always come back,” Jackman remembered his coach telling him. So he heeded Nee’s advice and moved to Austin, Texas.

He later moved to Houston where he, once again, fell in love with the game of basketball, playing at the park and his church.

Jackman played with upwards of 20 NBA players through the church and continued to get better and better. After some encouragement from some of the other players, Jackman decided to quit his job and play ball full time. 

“They said the worst thing you can do is to not play cause you won’t be able to live with that 15 years down the road,” Jackman explained.

After spending a summer with the Houston Rockets and not making the team, Jackman started playing internationally. He spent nearly four years playing with 18 teams across the globe, including Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, New Zealand and the States. 

“Amazing, beautiful places to play. And I was playing as well as I ever played and I loved it. I loved 18 different teams around the world. It was a great experience,” Jackman said. 

During his time abroad, Jackman traveled as much as he could, relishing in the opportunities he had to take in new cultures and experiences. 

“In all the places I’ve been, people are the same around the world. We have a lot of differences, but we’re the same. That’s what’s amazing,” he said. 

After completing his basketball career, Jackman attended the University of Chicago, alongside his two younger brothers, Dan and Doug, receiving his Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in finance.

“It was fun to get to know them again as an adult,” he said about his time in Chicago with his brothers.

Currently, Jackman resides in Dallas, where he has lived for 24 years, and works for UBS Financial Services as senior vice president of wealth management.

He also serves on the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Board of Directors, and remaining true to his roots, serves on the University of Nebraska Foundation Board of Directors as the chairman-elect. 

Having been to 106 countries himself, Jackman continues to enjoy travel and encourages his children’s exploration of the world and sense of wonder. 

Maisie, William and Thomas, who possess their father’s love of travel, have each been to over 50 countries, according to Jackman. 

When asked about his upbringing in a small town, Jackman attributes a great deal of his success to the values he gained growing up in a small community.

According to Jackman, his childhood home was “perfect small-town America.”

In celebration of the strong sports community in which he was raised and loved, Jackman is the proud owner of the championship banners that hung in the gym in Perkins County High School for over 30 years. 

“[Coach] Pritchett always said they were in the perfect location. They hung right by the American flag, giving the opposing team three solid minutes to study those banners before the game started,” he said with a laugh.

The banners were made by Jackman’s brother, Dan, as his Eagle Scout project. Because Dan resides in Singapore and was unable to take them, they were relocated to Jackman’s personal basketball court in his home. 

“It’s a bit of Grant in Texas,” Jackman said.

According to Jackman, Grant was always a strong sports community, rich with history and tradition that translated into the classroom, school work and eventually into careers. 

“I think most of the guys I played with have said that. The discipline has really affected their lives in a very positive way.”

In addition to his strong coaches, Jackman had mentors throughout the community who affected him through their leadership and guidance. 

He was also able to participate in youth group, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership and Boys State, all providing him with experiences he took with him into adulthood.

“The community raises a lot of kids. Whether I was playing basketball, going to the grocery store or was getting a haircut, there was talk about our team. That’s just the culture of the town. And then you grow up seeing how special that really is,” Jackman explained.

Although he deems himself unqualified to offer advice to students in Perkins County, he did have a few thoughts to share.

“Read. Read as much as you can. Get out and experience life. Celebrate the gift of wonder. Meet people. Talk to them,” he said, adding “get to know them. 

“Find your passion and really go after it.” 

(Photo by John Black Photography)

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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