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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 30, 2016
South Bend, Indiana
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Firstly, I just want to thank everybody for coming. A lot of people here have been seeing me since high school, so just want to thank all you guys for coming. I'm just here to answer your questions.
Q. You've always been a team guy; team first, you second. How do you now adjust to having to do this and go do something for yourself?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah. And it kind of comes back to that team aspect. I've just got a great support system around me, my family, my friends, my teammates, coaches. So although, you know, like you said, it's kind of something for yourself, but at the same time my team has still supported me.
Q. When did you know that I've got to take that next step?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: After speaking with Coach yesterday is kind of when we came to a decision together. He's really been a great mentor for me and really has helped me, so talking with him definitely helped me come to a firm decision.
Q. How closely had you been leaning towards this for a little while?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, it was kind of on the back burner. I was focused on just trying to win and just have fun and enjoy my time with my teammates, so it was definitely on the back burner, not focusing on it too much, but at the same time just wanted to educate myself so I could make a good decision.
Q. How big is this moment for you after everything you've gone through?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, it is big, a dream come true, and it's been my goal for such a long time, so to be able to have the opportunity to kind of reach that goal, just an amazing feeling.
Q. You mentioned in your postgame interview your family and what they've meant to you. There were probably a lot of thank yous.
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely. Without them, I wouldn't be here, so they gave me an opportunity. They gave me a home. They gave me love. Without my family, I wouldn't be here today. Definitely good things --
Q. The way things happened at Mishawaka Marian and Notre Dame, I don't know if you ever dreamed of all the success you'd have.
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely a dream. When I first picked up a basketball, I didn't really see myself making it to the highest level, and so -- but I kept working towards that goal ever since I set it at a young age. So like I said before, it's just a dream come true.
Q. What sort of feedback have you gotten from various people that you've talked to, whether scouts, guys you know in the NBA, just in terms of what gives you confidence that this is a good move now?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Just some positive feedback. I mean, I don't know what else to say too much other than that, but just positive feedback, and so I feel like my family and my coaches have really helped educate me throughout the process, and that this was just the best move.
Q. Are you signing with an agent soon then?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, I'm going to take some time to just kind of say thank yous around campus and stuff like that, and then in the next couple of weeks I'll sign with an agent.
Q. Do you have that list narrowed down?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Not too much. I have some agencies that I've talked with, but not too much.
Q. Any general timetable as to when you want to sign with someone?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I want to have it done in the next couple weeks here.
Q. Any plans to stay in school for the semester or are you going to get ready for the draft?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, I won't be here for the rest of the semester to finish out academically, but I'll still be around. As you know, this is my home, so my home is 15 minutes away, and Notre Dame is my home, so I'll always be here. I'll probably still be bothering these guys in the locker room and stuff like that.
Q. You said you won't be here?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: No, sir.
Q. Coach indicated he thought maybe you might not sign with an agent right away and just see what happened at the combine. What made you decide to jump full in right away?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Just positive feedback and just I thought it was the best thing for me, just from the information I've received. Just wanted to take the opportunity.
Q. What does it mean to you to represent this community and Mishawaka?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, it means so much to just kind of represent the whole 5-7-4 and just be able to just be a role model for some of the young kids growing up in the area. It's been such a blessing to go to such a great University and just have some of the teammates I had and have some of the people in my life I've had. Just definitely a great blessing for me.
Q. When you talk about being a role model, how has the evolution that you've gone through here helped being that kind of person?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, just it's always learning, so whether it's from my teammates, coaches, our priests, just always watching, learning, observing, and just trying to become a better person. I've just tried to better myself in my time here and always tried to ask questions and always tried to reflect on things that I've done and things I didn't do, and just use that to become better.
Q. How do you frame the perspective of that freshman kid who got sidelined for a couple games to refocus on academics, and how do you frame that into who you are now?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, that was a great lesson for me, and it just really helped me going forward kind of realizing my priorities and helped me kind of dial back in. And also it was a great moment for me coaching at that time. We became closer, and I think ultimately down the road that helped us form a better relationship and accomplish some of the things we were able to accomplish as a team.
Q. What's your message to the kids who may be in a situation that you were, and here you are now? What do you want to say to them?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, just continue to work hard. Hard work definitely pays off, and also to just keep faith and stay positive. A positive mind, keeping a positive mind, positive things will follow.
Q. You mentioned that playing with your team helped you gain trust again. Can you expand on that?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, obviously as a foster kid going through different foster homes, trust is definitely something that's difficult, so coming into a home where I was able to just be myself, be comfortable and be loved by a great family just definitely helped me gain trust, and then ultimately that allowed me to open up to them and to my teammates and to my coaches and be more open with everybody and just be at ease with my situation.
Q. Was this a difficult decision for you to come to?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely very difficult because this is my home, like I said, so kind of leaving the nest for the first time, and so a very difficult decision. But ultimately it's the best one for me.
Q. Is there any sort of excitement that you feel right now?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, just really excited. Like I said, it's a dream come true to be able to have the opportunity, so just a lot of thanks to give to all the people that has really helped me kind of reach this spot.
Q. Any plans to finish your degree or have you thought about that yet?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely. I'm going to talk to our academic advisor and work on a plan to finish up. So yeah.
Q. How close are you?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I've still got a long way to go (laughter).
Q. What will you do for the next six weeks then?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: For the next six weeks after meeting with agents and hopefully signing with one, I will discuss what the plan ahead for me is, and that'll most likely be to begin working out and just preparing myself for the draft.
Q. Did Coach Brey give you an idea what to expect now as far as what you need to do to make yourself available to NBA teams? Did he give you any advice?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, Coach Brey has definitely helped me, educating me throughout the process because it's new for me and my family, so he gave me great information and just really helped me know kind of what's best for me, helped me kind of dial in on certain groups and certain things that I should really be focusing on.
Q. What has your time at Notre Dame meant to you?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: It meant so much, to just have all the teammates I had, all the coaches that helped me. Just it really meant a lot to me, and to be able to be a part of such a great family, to be able to experience and grow here and learn, it really meant a lot to me.
Q. I know you probably know a lot of guys who are in the NBA now. Has there been anybody who's helped you through this process from not a family perspective but somebody who's gone through it?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I've had certain people, especially Jerian and Pat, kind of text me and say congrats and things like that, but I haven't talked to anyone too much about certain things yet.
Q. What do you think a year from now is going to be like?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I don't know. That's a great question. Hopefully with continued hard work, I'll be in a good spot.
Q. Did your performance this year convince you that you were ready?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely kind of ending the season on a positive note, going out recently and playing with our team and accomplishing some of the things we were able to accomplish definitely helped me in my decision.
Q. Was there any point in the season where you thought, there's no way I'm going to be leaving this year, I need more whatever, or were you always --
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I think throughout the year I was just really focused on the team and focusing on what I could do to be the best for our team and what I could do to help us win games. I wasn't focusing on at the end of the season I'm going to be gone or I'm going to stay. I was just focusing on that moment.
Q. You did take moments along the way where you shook the hands of a lot of people. Did you want to make sure that you thought of all that stuff as you made this decision?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely. Just wanted to say thank you to everybody who's really helped me, regardless of if that was my last game on the court. I just wanted to thank all the people because they put a lot of hard work into helping us have the best situation.
Q. When you met with Coach Brey did you guys outline reasons for why maybe you would come back, and if so, what were some of the reasons that made it a tough decision?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Some of the reasons that made it a tough decision for me was because my family back there, my teammates and coaches, when you hear and when you go to a University, you really develop a close relationship, and so -- and also just, like I said, this being my home, kind of leaving the home nest for the first time, definitely tough. But talking with Coach and talking with my teammates and everybody, they've really helped encourage me and really helped me to understand that this is kind of the best decision.
Q. You talked about trust earlier. You struggled a little bit your freshman year. What helped you develop trust with your coaches and your teammates here?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Spending more time together, getting to know each other better, stopping by the office every now and then to talk to coaches, hanging out with my teammates more off the court, and definitely the time where I was out, me and Coach Brey would get in the gym every night. We'd be in the gym at 9:00, 10:00, and we'd work out and we'd be there for a while. Spending more time together, doing the things like we really loved to do together definitely helped.
Q. Kids go to college and leave and get a job and make money. Is there something you really want to buy or you've always wanted where you think you might be able to get that now?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: One thing when I was younger, I haven't told very many people this, I promised my mother that I would kind of buy her a new home. That's one of my goals, and hopefully something I'll be able to accomplish in the next couple years.
Q. What would your 10-year-old self say if he were standing here now?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I don't know. That's a great question. 10-year-old me would probably be crying back there somewhere, just kind of happy, tears of joy. Just happy.
Q. Does it matter if your a first-round pick or not?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: You know, as a competitor and just wanting the best for myself, it definitely matters, so that's my goal, and I'm definitely going to work towards that.
Q. How are you better as a player and a person than the person that walked in here three years ago?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, as a player just understanding the game more. As a point guard, that was my biggest challenge was being able to make the right decisions, and that's still one of my biggest challenges today, so hopefully I can continue to grow in that area. But as a person just being able to just understand people more, just listen. I think listening was definitely a big challenge for me when I first got here, and then also just being able to channel my energy in the right way, just being more positive, being more focused and dialed in.
Q. Being so close to the Final Four, during your decision making, was any of that -- did you picture yourself back on next year's team and maybe what you guys could accomplish if you were to come back at all during the decision-making process, and what did that look like to you if you were coming back with the guys that are also coming back?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, definitely thought about that, what the team would look like. But at the end of the day, this team is going to be great because of our coaches and just the players here. They work really hard every single day, and they bring -- they really bring it.
This team is going to be great, and I look forward to watching them in their future success.
Q. Did what happened to Jaylon Smith play a factor at all, being what you've gone through, and maybe if you come back there's a risk of injury and everything?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: I don't think so. That's not something I really thought about. Like I said, I just wanted to make the best possible decision for me, and just talking to my family and coaches, I thought this was the best decision.
Q. When you spoke to your family, how did that conversation go? Was it a lengthy one? Was it just they listened and had your back?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, they really listened and just kind of had my back and just told me that they would really support me in any decision. Having such a great foster parents definitely helped me out. They've always been there for me and always helped me out through ups and downs, so leaning on them and talking to them was definitely a great time.
Q. Did you have a favorite team growing up?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: No, just any team, like you said, will just be my favorite. Nobody in my family has had this opportunity, so any team for me would be good.
Q. You'd only be the second first-round pick from all of Indiana. What would that mean for you, just the legacy overall of this entire area?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, I think personally, it would just give kids in this area the confidence that they can make it, too, give kids in the area the confidence to know that if they work hard that they'll be able to reach their dreams, as well.
But yeah, it would just be really special. I'm just really thankful because I had a great situation. I was placed -- I went to a great high school, a great university, so it was really set up for me to just be where I am today, and I'm just really thankful for that.
Q. What could another first-round pick do for this program potentially and how is the program different now that you're walking out of it than when you came in?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, going to back-to-back Elite 8s, definitely something really special for us, and I believe that they'll reach that same goal next year and be even further than that. But I think that we really changed the culture of the postseason play. When I was in high school people would talk about how Notre Dame would lose in the first round every year and things like that, but people don't say that about us anymore. I just feel like we've really been able to accomplish some great things and make history.
Q. How close were you to going to Illinois? Was it ever close or was it always Notre Dame by a lot?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Yeah, two great schools, but I definitely think my choice was the best decision for me, and it turns out that it was.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports