Expectations are sky high for eighth grader Irieyonia “Mook” Jackson’s basketball career at Coahoma Early College High School.
Jackson, a point guard, comes from the town of Coahoma and has been preparing for the big stage with the Lady Tigers since her career began in third grade at Jonestown Elementary School.
Even though Jackson started playing at a young age, basketball was not her top priority in the beginning.
“First, I was cheerleading,” she said. “Then I tried out in third grade. I thought about playing basketball and always watched sports and I was going to give it a try.”
Jackson possessed a confidence in her game at an early age.
“I’m a GOAT with the ball,” she said.
Jackson became a student of the game watching professional basketball. Her favorite NBA team is the Golden State Warriors. Her favorite NBA player is Warriors point guard Stephen Curry. Her favorite WNBA team is the Los Angeles Sparks. Her favorite player is Sparks power forward and center Candace Parker.
Jackson’s first taste of personal success came in the Coahoma County School District elementary school basketball league. She was the team MVP for the Jonestown Warriors in fifth and sixth grades. She led the Warriors to a championship in sixth grade.
“I scored the last 6 points to win the championship for sixth grade,” Jackson said.
The game was against Friars Point. Jonestown was behind by 4 and, thanks to Jackson, won by 2.
“I scored 3 layups and hustled,” Jackson said.
Jackson said Lyon Elementary School is Jonestown’s biggest rival in the elementary school league.
The success continued at Coahoma County Junior High School.
Jackson averaged 10 to 12 points per game in seventh grade as the Lady Red Panthers won the district championship.
“I had good defense,” she said. “I hustled.”
CCJHS was the runner-up this past season while Jackson was in eighth grade.
“Eighth grade I kind of fell off because I didn’t practice a lot because of the death of my brother (Alfonzo Daniel), but I still had good games,” Jackson said.
Following the success in elementary and junior high schools, Jackson got her first taste of playing for the Lady Tigers toward the end of the 2019-20 season as they earned a playoff spot.
She scored 4 to 10 points each game she saw action playing for CECHS. She enjoyed playing for Lady Tigers coach Luster C. Tyler II.
“Coach Tyler, he’s a great coach,” Jackson said. “After our junior high season, I played with the high school. I played from January to the end of the season.”
Even with the coronavirus causing students to be out of school and social distancing everything, Jackson is still finding ways to remain sharp.
“I have a basketball goal,” she said. “I’m shooting around, practicing my dribble, and I play against my cousin.”
Jackson’s cousin is seventh grader Antwan Daniel from Atlanta, Ga., who has been visiting.
“I play with my little brother,” said Jackson, whose little brother is Irie Jackson.
Jackson is currently 5 feet, 3 inches and hopes to grow to 5-7 and become a shooting guard by the end of her high school career.
No matter what her height is, Jackson will be prepared to play.
“My height doesn’t make the game,” she said. “My skills do.”
Jackson’s motto is, “I’m a beauty in the hall and a GOAT with the ball.”
Jackson’s goal is for the Lady Tigers to continue making the playoffs and win state championships.
“I’m going to make my granddaddy, brother and grandmother proud,” she said.
Jackson’s grandfather is the Rev. Bennie Brown from Jonestown, who is also on the Coahoma Community College and CECHS school board, and her grandmother is the late Bettie Brown.
Bennie Brown and Jackson’s mother, Yolanda Daniel, plan to be at all of her high school games.
Jackson plans to attend a basketball camp at Ole Miss in July to help with her skills.
Jackson said CCJHS coach Jonnetta Robinson Williams, CECHS assistant coach Thomas Williams Sr. and Jonestown Elementary School coach Cranston Hill have all been instrumental in helping her with her game.
She also looks forward to working with CCC assistant men’s basketball coach Cameron Monix one-on-one.