Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who was known as Chris Jackson in the mid to late 1980's, left a lasting impression on anyone who watched him drill trey after trey for three seasons at Gulfport High School.
Besides his shooting ability, Jackson was an excellent play making guard who dished out assist setting up easy buckets for his teammates.
He guided the Admirals under head coach Bert Jenkins to a pair of State Championships and in 1988 was selected Mississippi's High School Player of the Year. He netted 29.9 points per game and 5.7 assists. He was named a McDonal's, Parade and Dapper Dan first team All- American.
After graduating from Gulfport High School in 1988, Jackson signed a college basketball scholarship with Dale Brown's LSU Tigers. He played two seasons in Baton Rouge and enjoyed the same success he experienced in high school. He was a two-time consensus SEC Player of the Year and two-time, first team All-American.
Abdul-Rauf set a NCAA freshman scoring record of 30.2 points per game at LSU. During his sophomore season he contacted Gulfport attorney Eddie Miller and told him that he wanted to turn pro. He did and was the 3rd overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets.
In 1993, he averaged nearly 20 points a game, despite the fact that he played just over one half per game. He was named the NBA's Most Improved Player.
In 1995, he recorded the 2nd highest NBA free-throw percentage drilling the net at a 95.6% clip.
Friday night friends, family and former teammates turned out for the career and retirement tribute high atop the Great Southern Club in Gulfport.
He said, "I was just fortunate to come across good people that kept me on the right track, kept me busy and not distracted which happens to so many youth today. Really I think that's why I'm here, not so much about me but mentioning a lot of people contributing to success. I don't think success is in a vacuum, It's something that is isolated. Your environment, the people you come in contact with, everybody plays a part in making you who you are."
He said Gulfport High School basketball coach Bert Jenkins was the best coach of any coach he experienced and that includes college and NBA coaches.
Abdul-Rauf lives in Atlanta and has three children, including two boys who are just getting serious about basketball. He says he's written a children's book and wants to hold basketball clinics for the youth.
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