15 good questions with C.J. Jackson

C.J. Jackson, left, and Chris Hicks, right, cheer on the team from the bench during the game against Michigan on Saturday. Illinois beat Michigan 79-74. Josh Birnbaum

By Ian Gold

Q: Being from Georgia, how are the Illinois winters?

A: I get a little runny nose every now and then, it’s cold; but it’s not that bad. I don’t go outside that much anyway.

Q: What have you accomplished in your redshirt year thus far?

A: I’ve lost 30 pounds. I believe my game speed is a lot faster. I understand the game a lot better, and I understand the motion Illinois wants to run. Overall, I’m a much better ballplayer.

Q: Jamar Smith said out of everyone on the team you’re most likely to steal someone’s girl … ?

A: I’m just a sweetheart, I talk to everyone. If you’re nice to me, I’m nice to you. I don’t try to steal anyone’s girl, I’m just a nice guy.

Q: What recruiting pitch brought you to Illinois?

A: They didn’t promise me the world, they didn’t promise me this many minutes per game, they didn’t promise me anything. How much you’re going to play depends on you, how hard you’re going to work and how hard you’re going to play. As a ballplayer you want to challenge yourself, and I want nothing spoon fed to me.

Q: Have you been given any nicknames?

A: Nothing in particular, C-murda, C-gizzle. They talk about my head a lot, those aren’t nicknames though.

Q: If you were stranded on an island with one of the coaches who would you choose?

A: That’s the hardest one; they are such great coaches. Probably Coach Webster; he is a trip to be around, he would keep us motivated and keep me entertained.

Q: If you could borrow one teammate’s ability, whose would it be and what?

A: Definitely be Brian Randle’s jumping ability, that’s the bottom line. His explosion, his quickness; I would love to have his jumping ability.

Q: When did you realize basketball was your passion and not football?

A: When I first played in elementary school, I started out being a football guy, kind of heavy set. But I played basketball for the first time and realized it was so much fun. It was less painful of course, but I always knew basketball was the way I wanted to go.

Q: What can Illinois fans look forward to from you next year?

A: I’m that scrap man, the guy that does everything to sacrifice his body for the team. I want to get every rebound and every loose ball. I probably won’t be tearing up the stat sheet next year. But the hustle points, taking charges, the little things like that to help the team in the smallest ways.

Q: What was your first job?

A: In 8th grade I did some yard work for some rich guy in my town. Got a couple of hundred dollars every weekend. I was spoiled, didn’t have to do too much, just show up.

Q: What music are you listening to right now?

A: Little Wayne, Carter 2, that’s probably the big one right now. I’m always riding with Jamar Smith and that’s all he listens to so I had to get used to it.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: I’m chilling with my girl a lot of the time, just trying to relax and spend time with my teammates.

Q: Could you be an Antonio Gates-type NFL player?

A: I don’t really think about football. If I don’t pursue the basketball role that would be nice to follow the football role, but right now I only concentrate on basketball.

Q: Which celebrity gets on your nerves the most?

A: I got to think about cocky athletes, I respect T.O. and his game. But his cockiness really gets to me.

Q: What is your favorite Illinois uniform?

A: I like the blue uniforms, without the silver on the shoulders, the classic blue ones that we never wear.