March Madness memories: How Jarrett Jack developed clutch gene
Jarrett Jack has played for seven different teams over the course of his 10-year NBA career, including three in the last three seasons. No matter how many times he switches teams, though, Jack still manages to find the ball—and the bottom of the net—in clutch situations.
Jack was a late-game fixture for the Warriors before Stephen Curry set the world on fire, and he made game-winners for the Cavaliers before LeBron James' return. He now maintains a similar role on the Nets, even with Brook Lopez and Deron Williams healthy and playing regular minutes.
Jack spoke with SI.com about his penchant for rising to the occasion at the end of games and looked back on his final season with Georgia Tech, one he characterized as the most fun he has had in basketball.
"That's just part of growing and being ready for the game," Jack says. "Those moments that happened in college, they were different—different games, different teams, different scenarios—but, yeah, I guess you could kind of say that groomed me for a lot of these moments."
This can all be traced back to Jack's three-year collegiate career at Georgia Tech, where he helped lead the Yellow Jackets to an unlikely appearance in the 2004 title game against UConn, a basketball titan led by Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor.
Before Georgia Tech faced off with UConn and suffered a loss in the championship, Jack completed big plays to get it there. Perhaps none was bigger than his steal against Boston College in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jack jumped a pass with nine seconds left in regulation as his team held a 55–54 lead. He took off down the floor for a dunk that would seal the Yellow Jackets' victory and keep their run alive. It was just one in a line of important plays from Jack.
Georgia Tech, which only finished fourth in the ACC that year, then went on to defeat Nevada, Kansas and Oklahoma State. Jack was named Most Outstanding Player of the St. Louis Regional along the way, posting a career-high mark of 29 points against the Jayhawks in the Elite Eight.
Jack averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 assists in his third and final season at Georgia Tech, utilizing the same midrange game that has helped him stay afloat amid constant change in the NBA. Later chosen with the Trail Blazers's No. 22 pick in the 2004 draft, Jack still reflects fondly on his college career.
"In college, there's nothing else you play for except pride and representing your school and yourself," Jack says, "when it's simple like that and not so complex like it is on this level at times. I think that's why people tend to watch college more than the NBA, because that's all you got for those 40 minutes—pride. And you go out there and you don't play for anything else but that."