Forgive Jackson Sartain for having a chip on his shoulder. It’s just the way the Medina graduate always has been.
Sure, Sartain had an impressive high school career, becoming one of the top 3-point shooters in the state and helping the Bees to deep postseason runs.
Despite all that and accepting an offer to play for historically strong Division III John Carroll, he still had something to prove.
“After high school, a lot of people doubted me,” Sartain said. “They said that I wouldn’t have a good college career, so I kind of took that personally. Before I came into college, I worked really hard, and then the summer came and we were playing open gyms. That’s when I realized that I could run with these guys. I knew if I put in the time and the work, I could succeed.”
In less than two years, the sharpshooting guard has emerged as not only the best outside shooter to walk on the John Carroll campus, he’s among the best in the country.
Sartain shattered the program record for made threes with 90 in his first season and has picked up exactly where he left off this winter. He is 20 shy of matching that mark and is in the top five in the nation for made 3-pointers and 3-pointers per game.
Thanks to an impressive .468 shooting clip (70-for-149), the former All-Gazette selection already has surpassed 500 career points. He is averaging 17.1 points this season.
“People have been telling me that with the work I’ve put in this offseason and all that shooting that I’d been doing, that it would come eventually, but I never thought it would come this fast,” Sartain said.
When the Blue Streaks recruited the 6-footer, they knew he had a knack for knocking down outside shots. Sartain earned All-Greater Cleveland Conference and All-Northeast Inland District honors twice at Medina.
So why the need to prove something?
“When I came out of high school, I was one of the better players on the team with Luke Schaefer, Ben Geschke, but not many people thought I was as good as them, and I kind of took that personally,” he said. “They’re both great players, don’t get me wrong, but when everyone else was saying that, I just took that hard. I wanted to be the best.
“I realized when you get to the college level that everybody on the team was the best player on their high school team, so I knew everyone was putting in the time, so I just had to put in more time than anyone else.”
Sartain has been a gym rat, setting a personal goal to make 500 shots per day.
When he was a fifth-grader playing for a travel team in Strongsville, he knew the only way to get on the court was to dedicate himself to the sport.
“I remember we were in the championship and I didn’t play that much,” Sartain said. “After the game, the coach came up to my dad and said, ‘I couldn’t play your son because he wasn’t the best option at that time.’ My dad told me, ‘If you want to take this seriously, you have to put in the work to be a good player.’ Ever since then, I just wanted to be the best.
“I realized that at a very young age and that’s why, to this day, I keep doing it. I just want to be better than everyone else.”
Sartain’s current season has been impressive not only for the fact that he’s been one of the most consistent 3-point shooters in the country, but that he’s expanded his game.
After catching the Ohio Athletic Conference by surprise a year ago, the sophomore has opened up his skills and already has attempted more free throws than he did in the entire 2017-18 campaign. His rebounding and assist totals are nearing his freshman marks, as well.
As for shooting, that’s still his game. Over the weekend, Sartain matched his career high with 30 points, including 8-for-10 on 3-pointers, as John Carroll fell to league-leading Capital.
More importantly, he’s taken on a leadership role after the graduation of a number of key players.
“Freshman year there were a lot of seniors that were good scorers,” he said. “I was open most of the time, so that’s how I got shots up and got myself open. This year, everyone knows about me now, so I have to learn how to create shots and get more involved by getting to the line more.
“I like the challenge. It has helped me to become more of a leader. I want to help other guys get a good shot or get in the gym. It motivates me.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.