At 5 feet 3, Forest Park's Danni Jackson is almost always the smallest player on the floor. She's also almost always one of the best, as she showed in Tuesday's 46-33 victory over visiting Brooke Point in the AAA Northwestern Region quarterfinals.
So what makes Jackson so good?
"God," answered Forest Park Coach Chrissy Kelly, who said she's not typically a religious person. "It's just God. Where some of us can spend the rest of our life trying to get to that level, God blessed her. So my question to her is, 'What are you going to do with God's blessings?' "
Thus far, Jackson has done plenty. As a freshman last season, she helped the Bruins win a state title alongside seniors Monica Wright (now at Virginia) and Ashleigh Braxton (Pittsburgh). As a sophomore playing without those two, Jackson has led Forest Park with roughly 15 points per game and powered the Bruins (20-5) into tonight's Northwestern Region semifinal against George Washington-Danville.
Against Brooke Point (20-7), Jackson scored all 13 of her points in the first half as her teammates struggled, then acted as a distributor and floor leader in the second half.
That kind of balancing act -- knowing when to take over and when to cede to her teammates -- is what Jackson needs to improve on to fulfill her potential while also helping the team improve, Kelly said.
"She's learning, and in the second half I felt she did exactly what good players do," Kelly said. "She didn't try to take it into her own hands."
Jackson said she understands what her coach is looking for and is trying to be someone who makes everyone around her better.
"I understand what I have to do [on my own], but sometimes you have to give it to the other players and let them be the go-to players," she said.