DENVER – Jackson Gabriel loves to go skiing, though he hasn’t been allowed to in the last three and a half years.
Instead, his dad and coach, Bradley Gabriel, has only allowed the Lincoln Charter senior to ice skate during that time, last year in West Virginia to avoid injury during basketball season.
But this will be the final year Bradley will be able to coach his son in an official capacity – as well as keep him off the mountain. With the exception of his middle school team, Jackson has been coached by his dad on every team since the second grade.
“Coaching wise, he’s always been the same, hardworking coach,” Jackson said.
For the end of Jackson’s illustrious career, the 6-foot-2 guard knows he has to take on not only more of a leadership role but a scoring role as well. Last year, playing with the Eagles’ all-time leading scorer Kody Shubert, he averaged 17 points per game.
“Instead of averaging like 15, I need to average 20-25,” Jackson said. “A little more scoring is needed, but the biggest thing is being a leader for the young kids.”
Lincoln Charter will be younger than last year’s team, but coach Gabriel believes this year’s team will be deeper, and have highly touted freshman Anthony Breland joining Jackson and fellow senior Levontae Knox in the backcourt.
Jackson and Knox are the only returning players off the 2017 1A title team, and Brad Gabriel is relying on the experience of Jackson and Knox to achieve that again.
“We have one ultimate goal, and that’s the state championship,” Brad Gabriel said. “They’re two of the better players in the surrounding area, even to Charlotte. They know what it takes to get there.”
Next year, Jackson will at least be much closer to the ski slopes when he attends Lees-McRae College in the North Carolina mountains. Until Jackson joins former teammate London England there, his dad will relish coaching him one last time.
“I’m going to miss coaching my son,” Bradley said. “I’ve coached Jackson a long time, 14-15 years of his life. And most coaches don’t get an opportunity like I’ve had.”