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U-D Mercy Doubles Up, Dakota Cagers Jackson & Ballantyne Become Titans

By: Scott Burnstein, May 2, 2017, 10:00 am
Macomb Dakota’s Jermaine Jackson, Jr. and Jack Ballantyne only got of year of high school hoops  in together. Now, they’ll get four more in college.
Jackson and Ballantyne, two of the premier boys basketball players in the state’s Class of 2017, both signed with the University of Detroit-Mercy Monday.
Ballantyne, 6-foot-9 big fella, transferred to Dakota last summer from Warren De La Salle. The 5-foot-10 Jackson, a smart, speedy and crafty point guard, got to Dakota as a sophomore from Mt. Clemens.
Jermaine Jackson, Sr. is an assistant at UD-Mercy and starred in the backcourt for the Titans in the late 1990s before going on to have a pro career in the NBA and overseas – he helped lead the program to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 1998 and 1999.
“My family connection to (UD) Mercy played a big role in my decision,” the younger Jackson conceded. “We’re going to help bring Titans basketball to where it used to be.”
Following the season ending in March, Jackson and Ballantyne decided to go to college as a package deal.
“We’ve talked a lot about going to the next level as a tandem,” Jackson said. “Then, last week we narrowed our choices down. This is the right decision. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
According to the future Horizon League inside-outside combo, Duquesne of the Atlantic 12, was the other finalist in the selection process. Besides UD-Mercy and Duquesne, Jackson had offers from Georgia Tech, Auburn, Colorado, Colorado State and Oakland University. Ballantyne bagged offers from OU, Boston College, Kent State, Toledo and Akron.
“Jermaine and I have known each other since we were little kids, we’ve being playing AAU together in the offseason for the last ten years. This last year at Dakota was the best year of my life and the most fun I’ve ever had on the court. A lot of that had to do with Jermaine. We want to continue that connection on that floor and keep the feeling alive for another four years in college. The kind of opportunity in front of us, two best friends getting to go to the next level, doesn’t happen every day, so we’re both very thankful it worked out this way.”
With Jackson at the helm of Dakota’s offense, the Cougars went 92-4 overall, won three straight MAC Red championships, going undefeated in league play in all three seasons and made a trip to the Class A final four in 2016. Dakota finished 20-4 in 2017, as Jackson averaged 26 points per game and Ballantyne recorded 18 points and 10 boards a game.