By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
When Baylor women’s basketball opened the 2018-19 season, uncertainty surrounded the point guard position.
Sophomore guard Alexis Morris had been dismissed due to a violation of team rules. Morris was the heir-apparent to Kristy Wallace, who served as the Lady Bears’ lead guard the year prior.
Chloe Jackson, a graduate transfer guard from LSU, was likely to fill in at the shooting guard position with Morris at point guard. Now Jackson, who had spent her days in Baton Rouge playing off the ball, was thrust into the starting point guard spot to lead a top five team in the country.
Jackson fit in right away. The Upper Marlboro, Md., native notched no less than five assists in the first eight games of the season while also putting up 11.1 points per game in the early going. When Jackson notched her first double-double with 11 points and 11 assists against Iowa State on Jan. 23, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said her transition from a shooting guard to point guard was nothing short of amazing.
“Everything Chloe does with the ball in her hands impresses me,” Mulkey said. “That’s like taking a wide receiver and making them a quarterback in their fifth year of college. An athlete might run the ball, but you’ve got to have patterns, you’ve got to throw the ball on a dime, you’ve got to have presence in the pocket. She’s doing all of that stuff.”
While the team was led on offense by its bigs (junior forward Lauren Cox and senior center Kalani Brown), Jackson filled in admirably at what is considered the most important position on the basketball court.
When Baylor was down 64-61 to Oregon in the national semifinal with six minutes to go, it looked like the Ducks had exploited the Lady Bears’ biggest weakness – guard play. Jackson had just four points and junior guard Juicy Landrum had just six.
Jackson stepped up in the biggest moment, however, converting on a driving layup with 41 seconds left to give Baylor a lead they would not surrender.
In the National Championship game against Notre Dame, Jackson dominated from start to finish. She scored a team-high 26 points on 13-for-25 shooting, including a bevy of contested, midrange jumpers. Jackson said she fed off the team’s energy and came out to play against the defending champion Fighting Irish.
“I just wanted to come out today being more aggressive,” Jackson said. “I knew they were obviously going to be on our post players, I would have some open looks. Just coming out early, looking for my shot, taking what the defense was giving me. But really the confidence came from my teammates and my coaches.”
Yet again, Jackson played hero for the Lady Bears. She scored the final four points for Baylor, including a layup with five seconds left that looked eerily familiar.
“It was the same play we ran (Friday) against Oregon,” Jackson said. “[Mulkey] told me just get to the basket. If the wing helps over, kick it to Juicy. If not, get all the way to the rim. That’s what I did.”
Despite playing almost the entire fourth quarter with four fouls, Jackson stayed poised and led the Lady Bears to their first title since 2012. Mulkey had some high praise for the LSU transfer.
“Chloe never gets rattled,” Mulkey said. “She [made some mistakes], but she never got rattled.”