Pleasant Hill, Sports Zone

Creswell GOAT takes over Billies basketball program

PLEASANT HILL – Luke Jackson – perhaps best known locally as the leader to Creswell’s state 2000 basketball title, in addition to the school’s all-time leading scorer – is the new coach for the Pleasant Hill boys basketball team. 

“It was mixed emotions at first because I’ll always be a Bulldog at heart,” said Jackson, a third-generation Bulldog. “It was a heart-wrenching decision just to … volunteer last year at Pleasant Hill. I certainly didn’t plan on ever becoming the head coach.”

Kyle McClain, Pleasant Hill athletic director, announced the decision in a press release last week, stating that Jackson was introduced to the team at lunch on Friday, where he “talked about giving a ‘perfect effort’ in everything that we do, whether on the court, in the classroom or in life.”

Jackson’s story is a well-told one in the area – and for good reason. After winning Class 3A State Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000, Jackson led Creswell to a state title in the 2000 season as a senior. He is still tied for 24th in Oregon history for most points scored in a career (2095).

As a college senior, in 2004, Jackson earned second-team All-American honors at the University of Oregon before being drafted 10th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He spent four years in the NBA playing for the Cavs, Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors, and Miami Heat.

Upon retirement, Jackson spent four years coaching at Northwest Christian University (now Bushnell) from 2013-17. Jackson had an 88-38 coaching record with the Beacons, won two conference regular season championships and was twice named the  Cascade Collegiate Conference coach of the year. 

Last season though, he returned to the bench as assistant for the Billies and head coach Darwin Terry – who stepped down after this season in large part because of his desire to spend more time with his two teenage children.

“It was time for me to move on … It’s just time for me to resign and let someone else take over,” Terry said. “It was a juggle to coach and watch my kids play, but I was able to do it because it was a commitment I wanted to do, and I love basketball. I want to make sure I don’t miss any of (my kids’) stuff.”

Terry coached Pleasant Hill for the last three seasons, compiling a 59-20 overall record and 26-6 record in Mountain Valley Conference play. The Billies also made the postseason all three years, making it to the state quarterfinals in 2022 and 2023.

“There’s some great things that happened these last three years … not just the wins and losses, but all-state team academics, the Sportsmanship Award last year,” Terry said.

BOB WILLIAMS / CHRONICLE ARCHIVES. Jackson (left) and Terry watch during Pleasant Hill’s game at Creswell last season.

Jackson said one of the main reasons why he took an assistant job last season was because of Terry’s character, and it was a bittersweet transition because of that.

“Darwin … did a really, really nice job developing a program from the bottom up,” Jackson said. “I’m excited about this next chapter, but also sad that Darwin stepped down. He’s a great coach and an incredible guy … his record speaks for itself over the last few years.”

Both Terry and Jackson heard community speculation about why Jackson’s coaching at Pleasant Hill instead of his alma mater, but Jackson said there were multiple reasons for his decision, including his connections to Pleasant Hill and his desire for his children to not bear the burden of unnecessary expectations.

“For my boys, there’s a lot of pressure put on them because they’re my sons … I just want them to have their own legacy, their own little story,” Jackson said, noting that it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll attend Pleasant Hill. “I’m gonna leave that up to them. If they want to go to Creswell, then I’m going to support that fully.”

The Billies head into next season led by stars Gavin Inglish and Landen Melvin. Inglish, a senior next season, is a two-time Mountain Valley Conference player of the year and two-time 1st-team all-state honoree. Melvin, a junior next season, was 1st-team all-conference in 2024.

“I talked with the guys, and there was a large amount of people helping push me in that direction, so I don’t think it was a huge surprise. It’ll be a big adjustment going from an assistant to being the head coach, but I do have a little bit of experience in basketball,” Jackson joked. “I’m just hoping that I can give those guys a great experience and not make it about me in any way, because I’m not coaching for me at all.”



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