Charles Jackson would be the first to admit his attitude during his high school basketball career left a lot to be desired. More often than not, a referee's toot or an embarrassing loss would send the gifted 6-foot-4 1/2 Jackson into temporary fits of rage.
Blessed with extraordinary skills, Jackson, like so many inner-city youths, concentrated totally on honing his 15-foot jumper and finger roll while ignoring the academic side of school life.
"Basketball was all that was on my mind at the time. I ended up with some bad grades as a result," said Jackson, who now plays for Bowie State College. "And, yes, I gave a few people problems. I'd blow up in games."
After attending Carroll High for two years, Jackson transferred to Anacostia because he was "angry he wasn't starting and felt the Interhigh League would offer him the best competition."
Jackson's junior and senior years at Anacostia bordered on brilliant when he wasn't running into trouble with school officials, mainly about his school work. He didn't graduate and decided to go to Delgrado Prep School in New Orleans to earn his diploma.
"That's when I began to wake up. The next year I went to Durham Junior College, and that did it," Jackson said. "One of my problems was griping because players I knew I was better than always got more publicity than I did. That bothered me a lot.
"Then I was branded an attitude problem. I don't want people to think that of me, so I decided to set the book straight."
Bowie State Coach Taft Hickman, who convinced Jackson the small, friendly campus just 25 miles away from home would be a more suitable atmosphere than the larger schools who recruited him after his exceptional junior college career, said he had heard Jackson was a bit tempermental.
"He told me all that was in the past," the second-year coach said. "I keep waiting for him to explode. He hasn't yet."
Where Jackson has been volatile is on the court. He is the leading scorer in NAIA District 19 and 12th among NAIA scorers in the nation with a 26 point average. The junior power forward is averaging 12 rebounds, also among the leaders in District 19 and the nation's NAIA schools. He is shooting 60 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free throw line.
"The amazing thing about his average is that he only takes an average of 17 shots a game. He could take more, but he doesn't," Hickman said. "He's made a big difference on our team. He can do so many things... Bowie hasn't had a player of his calibre, I know, in the seven years I've been associated with the school."
Bowie State was a dismal 2-18 last year. This season, with six players back and Jackson, the record is 5-12.
"We're still coming together as a team," said Hickman, who teaches at Laurel. "Last year, we were just trying to survive. This year we're trying to win."
Victories have been a bit easier to come by since Jackson came aboard. games. We're adjusting to each other and it takes time," said Jackson, a journalism major. "We have a team concept and all of our players -- Gene Loundermill, Nate Hill, Wil Jones and Greg Moore can score. They look for me on the court and I look for them."
Hickman is toying with the idea of turning Jackson loose for the last half of the season. He thinks Jackson can overtake the NAIA's top scorer, Dan Hiebenthal of Western Baptist (Ore.), a 6-1 senior guard who is averaging 30.1 points.
"I would like to lead the nation in scoring, but I'm not going to worry about it," Jackson said. "I'm doing enough now to show people I can play, and my attitude is not that bad."
Jackson's two regrets are not earning his high school diploma at Anacostia and leaving Carroll in the beginning.
"I left there on a bad note and I still think about that," Jackson said, "but I've got it together now. I'm proving I'm not any problem. I lost that attitude a while ago. No more blowups."