Macomb Community College Athletic Director, Bryan Rizzo, announced on Tuesday (August 4) that Blake Jackson has been named interim head men’s basketball coach, effective immediately. Jackson joined the Monarchs’ men’s basketball staff prior to the 2019-20 season as assistant coach and helped the program to a 19-win season and a postseason berth.
Jackson’s promotion comes after longtime head coach, Jim Twigg, announced his retirement from coaching after 10 years leading the Monarchs.
“I’m truly honored and blessed to be the interim head coach of Macomb men’s basketball,” said Jackson of his appointment. “I’d like to thank Bryan Rizzo and the Macomb administration for such an amazing opportunity to lead a program that has been so competitive and well-respected over the years. I would like to thank Coach Twigg for everything he poured into the program and for allowing me to be a part of his staff. I wish him the very best in retirement. The program is in phenomenal shape thanks to Coach Twigg and the unwavering commitment of current and former student-athletes and coaches. To the players, thank you for allowing me to coach you and be a part of your journey. Above all, I’d like to thank God, my family and friends, the Macomb community, and both local and national coaches for their support.”
Prior to joining the Monarchs as an assistant last season, Jackson spent five seasons on the coaching staff at NCAA Division I Bethune-Cookman University, with the final two campaigns serving as the Wildcats’ graduate assistant. During his time at Bethune-Cookman, Jackson was academically-centered, earning a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. While roaming the sidelines for the Wildcats, Jackson was part of a staff that helped develop a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year and three MEAC Defensive Players of the Year. In 2017-18, Jackson helped the Wildcats earn the program’s second ever MEAC Regular Season Championship.
Jackson—a Detroit native and former Warren Mott standout—returned home to Michigan a year removed from the MEAC Championship season, and soon after, joined Twigg and the Monarchs for the 2019-20 campaign. Last season, Jackson was on a staff that featured six all-conference performers, led by All-Region First Team and All-MCCAA First Team performer, Amier Gilmore.
The mixture of NCAA Division I and NJCAA experience, and tutelage from head coaches like [Jim] Twigg and Bethune-Cookman’s Ryan Ridder, has helped shape Jackson’s coaching style and his overall vision for the Monarchs moving forward.
“The standard is always bigger than basketball,” relayed Jackson of his vision for the program. “Macomb basketball will extend far past the hardwood, as our student-athletes will not only be known for their talent on the court, but also as leaders in the classroom and in their communities. And, of course, I want to continue the work of establishing Macomb as a top-tier destination for student-athletes to play and further their education.”
With a vision of having a program that will be active throughout the campus community and beyond, Jackson knows it is on him and his staff to lead by example.
“As a servant leader, I want our guys to have confidence to be the best people and players they can be in their respective communities, daily,” Jackson said. “In order for that to happen, it is incumbent of the coaching staff to live those actions and showcase consistent communication, built on what all championship teams have—a mutual love and trust for each other and the team’s goals.”
Jackson’s mindset and dedication displayed since his arrival made him an ideal choice for Rizzo when thinking about the immediate future of the program.
“We are fortunate to have someone like Blake who can keep the momentum of our program going,” said Rizzo. “Not only does he have a good relationship with our returning players, but he has been working hard in recruitment during the year as well. He is very dedicated and the perfect guy to step into this role at this time.”
Admittedly, entering year one as a head coach amid a pandemic will add to the challenge, but Jackson will not let the uncertainty that surrounds our daily lives deter him from knowing how blessed he is to have the opportunity to lead the Monarchs.
“It is an honor and a blessing to be a head coach at the collegiate level or any level in sports,” Jackson said. “Being a head coach is a dream come true and there’s no place I’d rather be than Macomb, a place I am very familiar with, dating back to my days as a younger player in the area. Understanding the history of Macomb men’s basketball and the standards that are set by the college, I am excited for the opportunity that lies ahead to help our players grow on and off the court.”
Per NJCAA guidelines, Jackson and the Monarchs will be allotted limited fall practice time and are currently set to begin regular season play in January 2021.