SALT LAKE CITY — A returned Mormon missionary will be the tallest basketball player in the Ivy League this season.
Former East High School star Mark Jackson, just back LDS Church mission in France, is listed as 7-foot-3 on the University of Pennsylvania roster. An article by Penn's student publication said that Jackson is the tallest player in the Ivy League by 4 inches, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
"Airplanes are pretty hard. I have to duck under doorways," Jackson said in the article. "At least I can always reach things on the top shelf."
Jackson agreed to play for the Quakers before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris from 2015-17. Penn coach Steve Donahue thought a mission would benefit Jackson as an athlete because it would allow his body to develop and get stronger.
"We knew he was going to go on a Mormon mission, so that went into the evaluation. I saw a really big kid that knows how to play. He plays hard and has good hands. Everything else was a work in progress," Donahue said in the article. "Now there’s a lot of big kids and a lot of people roll the dice on kids, but Mark to me kind of separated himself with those things."
In the article, the towering red-head discussed the challenges of returning to basketball, his experience as a missionary and how it blessed his life.
"We just did service the entire day. When you are 100 percent focused on other people, it’s pretty eye-opening. It teaches you a lot about what’s important in life," Jackson said. "Working with refugees just seeing how hard their lives have been, just to see all the difficulties they went through it makes you think about how blessed you are.”
Read the entire article here.