By Nick Robinson | January 23, 2020

While returning from an ACL injury, 13-year NBA veteran Jarrett Jack landed in Sioux Falls with the Skyforce during the back half of the 2018-19 season.

“I sought them (the Skyforce) out, actually,” Jack said of his options after rehabbing his first ACL injury. “I thought it would be a way to showcase that I was still able to play.  Being able to stay stateside was huge, because we had some family things going on… my fiancé and I were about to have our first child.”

In his first game with the Skyforce, Jack lit up the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the tune of 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Then, just three quarters into his return to basketball, another ACL injury brought his season to an abrupt halt.

Some thought this might be the end of his career. It would have been easy to be discouraged.

“It was tough, déjà vu all over again,” Jack said. “But I was calm, and prepared. In the midst of the rehab, I felt the second recovery was going a lot easier than the first time around. I gave myself a timeline, and a guideline. When I woke up every morning, I still thought about playing basketball.”

Jack was prepared and knew what to expect the second time around.

The rehab was grueling. But he never lost sight of his ultimate goal: returning to the court and leaving it on his own terms.

Nevertheless, with the help of his own trainers and physical therapists, along with Sanford staff in Sioux Falls, he worked himself back to full strength.

“I had medical staffs in New York and Atlanta that were in contact with these guys in South Dakota and they created a plan, “Jack explained. “It was a schedule to keep me on a day-by-day regimen. And to this day, it’s been working out great.”

With the rehab finally behind him, Jack returned to South Dakota for a second stint with the Skyforce this season; eager to make an impact and prove that he can still play at a high level.

“I feel great,” he said of his body. “It’s a bit of a long, grueling season. Other than that, there hasn’t been a specific thing holding me back from competing at the level I expect.”

Jack, now 36-years old, has fully embraced being a team leader, and someone his teammates can lean on.

“I love being able to mentor guys,” Jack said of his role with the team. “I love sharing the game that I’ve been able to be a part of over the years. When I came into the NBA as a rookie, I played on the youngest team in the league, so everyone was essentially the same age. We had to learn and navigate on our own.

“I wish at that point I had someone to tell me some things I might call mistakes, or the way I went about things. I feel like that’s kind of my job in this situation I’m in now, to help and guide the younger guys. Advice is crucial.”

From day one, Skyforce head coach Eric Glass recognized the influence Jack brought to his team.

“Having somebody with 13 years of NBA experience – he’s seen everything, 10 times over,” Glass explained. “He’s constantly preaching and telling guys stories; he’s an amazing pro and perfect example for the guys. For these young guys, it takes a lot of time for things to seep in. Him being here every single day and constantly being that leader for us really helps.”

Not only has Jack been a leader off the court, he’s excelling on the court.

Upon his return, he went from a minute’s restriction to taking over as starting point guard.

He’s settled in, averaging 12.8 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in just 22.2 minutes per game while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and a team-high 92.9 percent from the free throw line. Most recently, he’s coming off back-to-back 20-point performances against the Northern Arizona Suns.

“His play has been really good,” Glass said of Jack’s performance this season. “He can say everything he wants, but if he was out there and couldn’t play anymore, it wouldn’t have as big of an impact.”

Jack admitted, from time to time, that he has to make sure he’s in control of himself and his body.

“I can be a little tentative, maybe not play at the pace I usually could have,” Jack said of regulating himself post-surgery. “As I get more and more comfortable, my body gets a little bit more adjusted. Ian (Lackey) and the medical staff do an outstanding job getting me set up and prepared each day.”

On the court, Glass feels Jack is another coach, something he said is invaluable to have.

“It’s very calming to have him out there,” Glass explained. “We know he can get us organized. If he ever has a play call, I’ll wave off mine because I trust him. He knows what we can get into. He just gives us a complete calming presence out there which is which is critical.

“He knows how to get himself going, but he also knows how to get other guys going and that’s a huge skill that’s overlooked in basketball. Knowing where your players like to get the ball, when they like to get the ball, and being able to deliver it on time and on target like is really critical.”

During his time in Sioux Falls, Jack has grown to appreciate the support he’s received from the community.

“Everyone in Sioux Falls is so welcoming and has been very nice,” he said. “My fiancé has been here, and even she commented about that. There’s just a level of being pleasant and polite around here. I appreciate that. We have a really good fan base and fans that show up and give us that six-man presence every night. You don’t see that around other arenas in the G League.”

Ultimately, Jack would like to see his play take him back to the NBA, but he’s motivated on helping the Skyforce any way he can.

“Obviously that’s my goal, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m locked into what’s going on here,” he said. “I’m focused on making the team better and becoming a better player myself. And then, whatever’s going on within the team, and what our common goal is.”