Tracy Jackson, this season's area basketball player of the year, last night signed a national letter of intent to attend Notre Dame.

This 6-foot-5, 205-pound All-America forward from Paint Branch High, said he selected the South Bend institution over more than 250 offers.

"It's a good school academically and it's not a tremendously large school. You can develop close relationships with people," said Jackson. "As far as basketball is concerned, I don't think any school plays the type of schedule Notre Dame plays. I like the idea of the exposure the school gets and I look forward to playing with Duck Williams (former Mackin All-Met) and for coach Digger Phelps."

Jackson's signing ended wide-spread speculation he was leaning toward Duke University. The ACC school, which recently landed West Philadelphia's top player, Eugene Banks, was high on Jackson's list, as were Indiana, South Carolina and Maryland.

"It was tough saying no to Maryland," he said. "Being from Maryland, it would have been the ideal place to play. But I really wanted to go away and I felt Notre Dame was the best choice."

Jackson scored 2,002 points and grabbed 1,098 rebounds in four years at Paint Branch. During that span, the Class B Montgomery County school compiled a 76-17 mark. The school won three straight county titles and this season won the state crown.

Jackson led the area in scoring this season with a 30-point average. He also averaged 15 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. In three games against Metro Conference powers DeMatha, St. John's and Mackin, Jackson registered 105 points and 54 rebounds.

The talented senior recently returned from a 17-day trip in Germany with the U.S. All-Stars, who won the Albert Schweitzer Memorial tournament.

"His decision to attend Notre Dame was 100 per cent of his own choosing," said Paint Branch coach Rank Galotta. "We acted as a buffer, weeding out the schools we know he wasn't interested in. When he got down to the last five, he made his choice."

Jackson said he didn't expect to break into the starting lineup right away. "I hope to get some playing time though I plan to work hard," he said. "It would be nice to play against UCLA in the TV opener.