published Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Antonio Jackson signs with Maryville

  • photo
    Cleveland's D.J. Bowles (1) drives around Ooltewah's Antonio Jackson (1) during their matchup at a Blue Raiders' gym in February.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ooltewah senior Antonio Jackson signed his letter of intent Wednesday to continue his basketball career at NCAA Division III Maryville College.

During his senior season, the 6-foot point guard averaged 14.5 points, 5.9 assists and 3.9 steals for the Owls, who finished 20-11 and fell in the Class AAA sectional round. He scored 915 points, 480 assists and 315 steals in his three-year varsity career, which included a trip to the Class AAA state tournament his junior season and a pair of sectional appearances.

Jackson said Maryville had been watching him since his sophomore season.

"That was a big deal that they had watched me over a period of time," Jackson said. "When I visited, the campus was beautiful and everybody was great. I couldn't beat the education level I would receive there, and nobody around town had anything bad to say about the school when I asked."

Jackson was twice named to the District 5-AAA team and on three occasions was named to the all-district tournament team. He was a Best of Preps honoree this season and will play in the Tennessee-Georgia All-Star game in June.

The Fighting Scots finished this past season with a 10-14 mark -- their first losing season in 26 years.

"Antonio is a jet-quick point guard with great floor vision," Maryville coach Randy Lambert said. "He comes to us from an outstanding high school program. He may not be one of the biggest players on the floor, but he certainly has a big impact on any game that he plays.

"His outstanding character and leadership ability makes him a great fit for our program."

Zagorac to Illinois-Chicago

Hamilton Heights forward Teodora Zagorac signed scholarship papers Wednesday to continue her career at the University of Illinois-Chicago, a NCAA Division I school in the Horizon League.

Zagorac, who stands 6-foot-3, averaged 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Lady Hawks. She shot 36 percent from 3-point range, yet considered that, as well as her rebounding, as primary areas of her game that she needs to work on.

"I'm excited about the opportunity. I can't believe that I'm signing to play in college," she said. "When I went there, they were so nice to me - both the players and coaches treated me very well."

She chose the Lady Flames over offers from the University of Tennessee at Martin and Southeast Missouri State. In addition, Tennessee Tech, Western Kentucky, Oral Roberts and North Carolina State showed interest.

The native Serbian has only played American basketball for a year, yet already seems to like it more than playing in Europe.

"It's faster here. They shoot more and are more physical," she said.

Bradley to Samford

Former Tyner center Michael Bradley signed scholarship papers to continue his career at Samford University, a Southern Conference school in Birmingham.

Bradley's career started at the University of Connecticut, where he spent two seasons - including the Huskies' national championship season of 2011. He transferred to Western Kentucky after the 2012 season, but the NCAA denied his waiver to play immediately, so he went to Vincennes University, a junior college in Illinois.

Now his career takes him back to the Division I level, although he will earn his degree in economics before transferring to Samford.

"Being in junior college really makes you aware of the benefits you have at the Division I level," Bradley said. "It also really taught me a lot about myself.

"Now, getting back to Samford is a great opportunity - it's close to home and hopefully my family can see some of my games now."

Having spent the past few seasons playing against the likes of NBA standouts Andre Drummond, Hasheem Thabeet and Rudy Gay, Bradley feels a lot more confident about his game as he moves on with his career.

"I'm able to score a lot more," he said. "In high school, I definitely wasn't known as a scorer, but I've worked on my game and I'm better offensively and have more of an offensive mindset."

Dalton trio to Georgia NW

The Dalton trio of guards Brandon Painter and Rico Mears, and forward Demond Brooks have all decided to continue their basketball careers at Georgia Northwestern, a junior college in Rome, Ga.

The three helped the Catamounts to a runner-up finish in the Region 7-AAAA tournament. They fell in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs to Marist High School out of Atlanta.

"At one point, I didn't think I'd be able to play college at all," Brooks said. "It's great that I'm going to be able to go there with a couple of my high school teammates; we know what we're good and bad at, and know each others' tendencies.

"We'll all have an opportunity to improve as players at the next level."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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