Amsterdam native Marcus Jackson to join UAlbany men’s basketball program

Albany Academy’s Marcus Jackson, of Amsterdam, during high school basketball practice at Albany Academy in Albany on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Albany Academy’s Marcus Jackson, of Amsterdam, during high school basketball practice at Albany Academy in Albany on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Marcus Jackson, an Amsterdam native, will join the UAlbany men’s basketball program for the 2022-23 season.

In a social-media post Sunday morning, Jackson announced his commitment to head coach Dwayne Killings’ Great Danes. Jackson, 18, played varsity basketball at Albany Academy for head coach Brian Fruscio’s program before attending Cushing Academy, a college-preparatory school in Massachusetts, this academic year. Jackson also played for the Albany City Rocks AAU program.

As a senior at Albany Academy, Jackson averaged 27.9 points, eight rebounds, 9.2 assists and 5.7 steals per game. The recruitment process for Jackson, though, was one the Albany resident described as “very stressful,” due to the NCAA’s changing eligibility and transfer rules, and pandemic-related restrictions during the close of his high school career. 

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“It was definitely difficult,” Jackson said, “but I’m happy with where I ended up.”

Jackson said his expectation is to join UAlbany as a preferred walk-on, meaning the guard will be a walk-on player as a freshman, but with a path to a scholarship starting with his sophomore year.

“Year 1 for me, it’s really about what I do with my offseason. I think that’s going to determine [how much I play], is just how I do in the weight room and with developing my game,” said Jackson, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 180 pounds.

Marcus Jackson played the majority of his high school career alongside older brother Andre Jackson, who completed his sophomore year at UConn earlier this month when the Huskies fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to New Mexico State. As a sophomore, Andre Jackson — a 6-foot-6 wing player — averaged 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 29.2 minutes per game for a UConn team that finished 23-10 and was a No. 5 seed for the national tournament.

Marcus Jackson is the second member of the Great Danes’ incoming recruiting class, which consists of players with local roots. Jonathan Beagle, a 6-foot-9 Hudson Falls native who spent the last two seasons at St. Thomas More School in Connecticut, committed last year to the Great Danes and has signed a national letter of intent. 

“I think he’s going to be [America East] Rookie of the Year. That’s how highly I think of him,” Killings said recently of Beagle. “He’s a really versatile kid at his position, can rebound, pass, can really score and defend.”

Marcus Jackson played with Beagle for a summer on the City Rocks, and said he knows a pair of current Great Danes — Will Amica and Gerald Drumgoole Jr. — through their time playing AAU basketball with Andre Jackson.

UAlbany finished 13-18 in Killings’ first season as head coach. The program’s offseason started after a March 6 loss to Hartford in the America East Conference quarterfinals.

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The Great Danes have at least two open scholarships to fill for their 2022-23 roster. From its 2021-22 team, UAlbany has three players — Chuck Champion, Paul Newman and De’Vondre Perry — to replace due to their playing eligibility being exhausted, with Beagle’s addition filling one of the scholarships. UAlbany has three more players — Matt Cerruti, Jarvis Doles and Jamel Horton — who are either seeking a waiver to be able to play next season or deciding whether to use the extra year of playing eligibility the NCAA afforded to athletes that competed during the 2020-21 season amid numerous pandemic-related restrictions.

Walk-on guard Luke Fizulich entered this past into the NCAA transfer portal. Fizulich is the only Great Danes player from this past season currently in the transfer portal.

Marcus Jackson will join the UAlbany program just a couple years after fellow Albany Academy alumnus Nick Fruscio — whose father coaches Albany Academy — finished off a four-season tenure as a walk-on guard at UAlbany. Brian Fruscio was one of many people that Jackson thanked in his social-media post Sunday announcing his commitment to UAlbany.

“He did a great job developing a relationship with you,” Jackson said of coach Fruscio. “He spent a lot of time with me off the court. He was about way more than basketball.”

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