May 1, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT
Before the 2012-13 season began Loyola Marymount had the look of a team capable of being a factor in the race for fourth behind WCC titans Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU.
Sure Max Good’s team lost wing Drew Viney, but with the return of point guard Anthony Ireland and forward Ashley Hamilton the Lions didn’t lack for individual talent.
To say the least the season did not go as planned, as LMU managed to win just one conference game and finished the season with an 11-23 overall record (they managed to win three conference tournament games). With that in mind an infusion of talent is needed, and the hope for LMU is that the additions of guard Nino Jackson and forward Gabe Levin will help.
LMU announced the signing of Jackson, a 6-2 guard from Ardmore, Okla. who attended Kingdom Christian Academy in Georgia this year, on Wednesday afternoon and from a talent standpoint the Lions are getting a steal.
“We are very excited to have Nino joining our program,” said Good in the release. “He is a multi-talented player that can hurt an opponent in so many ways. He has had to work hard to get where he is today, to graduate from Kingdom and to earn a Division I scholarship and that gives him a lot of maturity that really shows on the court.”
But for all the physical gifts there were also off-court issues for Jackson, which ultimately led him to Kingdom Christian. In their victory in the title game of the NACA Division III tournament Jackson led the way for a team that finished the game with just four players due to fouls.
Levin, a 6-7 power forward from St. Thomas More (CT), wasn’t included in the release as he has yet to sign with Loyola Marymount. But the one-time Hofstra commit (reopened his recruitment following the firing of Mo Cassara) has the skill needed to help LMU account for the graduation of Hamilton next season.
Jackson and Levin are the third and fourth players to commit to Loyola Marymount, with guard Evan Payne (who was a teammate of Jackson’s at Kingdom Christian) and 6-10 center Patson Siame being the others.
With the talent entering the program and the return of Ireland, Loyola Marymount hopes to have the pieces needed to avoid a repeat of last season.
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