Karen Aston’s nationwide search for a new assistant basketball coach began with a phone call to former Texas All-American Tiffany Jackson.
Jackson said yes.
The search ended.
“It was a lot easier to recruit Tiffany this time as opposed to when she was a player,” Aston said.
Jackson made her first public appearance on Thursday since she was hired to replace Tina Thompson on the UT women’s staff on Monday. Both she and Aston agreed the timing was perfect for the change.
“This is funny, but I was actually thinking about getting into coaching but (Aston) didn’t know that,” said Jackson, who ranks fifth in program history with 1,917 points from 2003-07.
Jackson, 33, said she planned to play one more year for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, then retire, then open a new chapter of her life as a coach. She said she was fortunate to have played for two coaching legends — Hall of Famer Jody Conradt at Texas and her father, the late Marques Jackson, the founder and program director of Dallas Elite, considered one of the most influential girls’ basketball club programs in the nation.
When Jackson received Aston’s phone call, she answered yes without hesitation.
“For us, the timing could not have been more perfect to bring back a legend to our campus,” Aston said.
Jackson will fill Thompson’s shoes by coaching UT’s post players. She will be welcomed at practice by two posts who were named to the McDonald’s All-America Team this spring — 6-5 Charli Collier of Barbers Hill and 6-7 Sedona Prince of Liberty Hill.
Jackson recalls working with Aston, who was an assistant on Conradt’s staff from 1998-2006.
“Karen actually coached the post players, if you can believe it,” Jackson said. “She was always on me the entire time. I came in here highly recruited, one of the top players in the nation, but she didn’t care about that. She wanted the best from me and she wanted the best out of me.”
Jackson left the university as one of the most highly decorated Longhorns of all time. She ranks eighth in scoring average (15.6 ppg.), first in career free throws made (487), fifth in rebounding (8.4 rpg.), third in career steals (313) and seventh in career blocks (181).
As a professional, she played for three WNBA teams — New York (2007-10), Tulsa (2010-15) and Los Angeles (2017-18). She also played in a professional league in Israel from 2012-18. She was a forward for Maccabi Ashdod, a team that won the Israeli league championship each season she played there.
Among the interested spectators at Jackson’s introductory press conference was Sug Sutton, who is expected to replace Brooke McCarty as UT’s starting point guard next season.
“Coach K (Aston) wanted someone with experience, and Tiff is going to bring the same kind of energy that Coach T (Thompson) brought,” Sutton said. “She’s played here before, so she’ll bring that Texas type of swag to our team.”
Jackson said it will take time to adjust to her new role, but Aston is confident she’ll become a team asset. Aston noted that Thompson had little experience as a coach when she became a Texas assistant in 2015. Thompson is now the head coach at Virginia.
Conradt believes Jackson will succeed.
“She has always been very astute in basketball knowledge and skill development,” Conradt said. “And her name still carries a great deal of weight in the state of Texas.”