Duke’s “Chameleon” Helps To Keep Blue Devils On Top

By Richard Kent
Updated: January 1, 2007

Tia Jackson

Tia Jackson

CONNECTICUT — She calls herself a “chameleon” as a recruiter. Webster’s dictionary calls that an inconsistent person. Perhaps what Tia Jackson is saying is that she is so consistent she can feel comfortable with a rich kid from Rochester, N.Y. or a poor kid from Miami in the recruiting wars.

Jackson is an assistant women’s basketball coach at Duke University and the recruiting coordinator. She previously held that same position at UCLA and also played for the legendary Vivian Stringer at Iowa.

Jackson helped lead the Lady Hawkeyes to the Final Four in 1993 and was a prep standout from Maryland. Jackson was also an early pick of the Phoenix Mercury and played in the WNBA.

The Blue Devils are undefeated and currently ranked No. 3 in the country. They are involved with every major kid in the country and Jackson is one, if not the main reason.

Other coaches say that there isn’t a better recruiter in the country. Her people skills really shine when she is talking to a kid, her parents or her grandparents. Perhaps it is that film background at Iowa or maybe it is just who she is as a person.

Jackson is the first to say that she works for Gail Goestenkors at Duke. Any observer of the program would not that she is a huge and integral part of the coaching staff.

Jackson is on record as saying that the goal of this year’s Duke team is not to just win the ACC or to make it to the Final Four but to win it all. They came so close in Boston, losing to Maryland in overtime in the Finals.

Kind of like Tiger Woods when talking about the Majors.

Next year, Duke brings in three of the best players in the country. One of them actually bears the last name of Christmas. Jackson is the reason why this is all happening.

She recognizes that her true recruiting rivals are Stanford, UConn, and Tennessee, but she doesn’t shy away from recruiting against any of them. And negative recruiting is not her thing. She has a really good product to sell and she sells it as well as anyone.

Jackson will someday have her own team. She will be a head coach. You know at a place like Old Dominion, Michigan, or Miami. It is unlikely that she will do this before she helps to lead the Blue Devils to a National Championship.

She knows that the teams that she is recruiting against can always say that Duke has never won it all. They all have. She wants that talk to end.

Spending just a few minutes with her makes you believe that she has anything to say about it Duke will win it someday,maybe as early as this year.

Goestenkors will get the credit and deservedly so but Jackson will certainly be one of the main reasons.