November 15, 2004
Cordele-- It may have been a common love for basketball that brought Lewis Clinch and Charles Jackson together, but it was a simple offering that sparked a tight knit friendship.
"It all started when we had our first AAU tournament up in Atlanta," Jackson said.
"He looked like a nice guy. He was my teammate, so you might as well build a bond with him. I was coming out of my room...," Clinch said.
"He came up to me and offered me a piece of gum. I was trying to act all hard, like I was the big guy on campus. But he's the first guy I talked to and we got in the game and instantly clicked," Jackson added.
They've stuck together ever since and were again side by side today when both signed full scholarships with major division one programs. "He made the effort to get here, wanted to see me sign, wanted to be here for me. It means a lot," Jackson said.
"We really did plan to go to the same school but we had to make our own choices for ourselves. It came down to being more of an individual thing," Clinch said.
Clinch (26 ppg as a junior), the second ranked shooting guard in the state who plays at Crisp County, signed with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. "Other schools were like, 'You don't need to go here because they have this guard, that guard and that guard'. Georgia Tech only sold their product and that's what was another major choice for me," Clinch explained.
Three hours later with Clinch watching Jackson (18 ppg/13 rpg as a junior), a 6'8" senior at Tri-County who was also a highly touted football prospect, inked with the University of Illinois.
"I went on an official visit up there and I really didn't want to leave. I just knew this is where I should be, this is where my heart is at this is where I can further my career both athletically and academically," Jackson said.
It was a day the duo will never forget and plenty of pictures were taken to ensure just that. And while they're heading to different schools next year Jackson and Clinch plan on keeping in touch as often as possible, and who knows maybe the two will once again be on the same court, if not as teammates definitely as friends.
"We're still going to remain close friends even though I may run into him in the tournament or something and have to whoop him up," Clinch joked.
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