Deja Jackson began playing basketball when she was young and stuck with the sport for years. But the decision to give it up might have been easier than some might expect.
Jackson, a Beaufort High School senior who had started on the basketball team since her freshman year, opted out of basketball this season to prepare for track and field.
She found the decision relatively easy. Jackson said her parents struggled with it more than she did.
"But I had to look into the future and see what would pay for my education," Jackson said. "And track's going to pay for it."
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Jackson signed Wednesday to throw shot put and discus at South Carolina State. She said the school offered a full scholarship, something competitors Louisiana-Lafayette and Clemson did not do.
Louisiana-Lafayette offered a partial scholarship, Jackson said. Clemson remained in contact but had been noncommittal.
Jackson visited those schools during the fall. S.C. State entered the picture in December.
She wants to major in civil engineering and said S.C. State offers appealing internship programs during the summer.
"And it's a strong track program there," she said.
Jackson, once a three-sport standout at Beaufort High, tweaked her shoulder during volleyball season this past fall. Her doctor found no serious injury, but recommended Jackson opt out of basketball if she wanted to be healthy for track season.
Jackson said her goal is to win a Class 4-A state title in the shot put. She finished fifth in the event last season and placed seventh in the discus.
"I'm putting all of my energy and focus into getting better at the shot put," she said.
Name: Deja Jackson
High school: Beaufort High School
Sport: Track and Field
High school coach: Herb Glaze
College: South Carolina State University
Probable major: Civil engineering
About S.C. State: The Orangeburg school has an enrollment of approximately 5,000. ... The women's track and field program finished third at the 2010 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Why S.C. State? "I've always wanted to go to a historically black college. When the opportunity presented itself, I just jumped on it."
Other schools that offered scholarships: Louisiana-Lafayette (partial)
Other high school sports played: Volleyball, basketball
Highlights: Earned second in shot put at 2010 Region 8-AAAA meet after personal-best 39 feet, 7 inches. Finished third in the region in discus. ... Finished fifth in shot put at 2010 Class 4-A state meet.