Butler’s Camille Jackson makes history after signing with Illinois
Camille Jackson is the first athlete in the 23-year history of the Noble Schools network — which currently has more than 12,000 students across 17 charter high schools — to be a Power Five recruit in any sport.
Butler’s Camille Jackson has always wanted to be a game-changer.
That’s what she is now for the Noble Schools and what she hopes to be for Illinois women’s basketball.
Jackson, a senior point guard, signed with the Illini in November. She is looking to help revive a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2012-13 and hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 2002-03.
But before stepping on campus in Champaign, Jackson already has made history in Chicago.
She is the first athlete in the 23-year history of the Noble Schools network — which currently has more than 12,000 students across 17 charter high schools — to be a Power Five recruit in any sport.
What does that mean to her?
“It’s really big that I’m kind of completing my goal of making change wherever I go,” Jackson said. “Now it’s pretty much what the goal is whatever school I go to.”
Jackson has been on this path for a while; as an eighth-grader, she had a Louisville offer. Not every grade-school phenom pans out, of course.
But Jackson has stayed the course and she is a four-star prospect, ranked No. 65 nationally in her class by HoopGurlz/espnW. She’s the state’s No. 2 prospect behind Texas A&M-bound Brianna McDaniel of Kenwood.
None of these accolades are likely to come up in a conversation with Jackson. It’s up to others, including Butler coach Xaver Walton, to be her cheerleader.
“The problem with Camille is she is so humble that at times she doesn’t want to show out,” said Walton, who started coaching Jackson in AAU ball when she was a fourth-grader.
That’s reflected in her stats. Through 27 games, Jackson was averaging 11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 3.0 steals.
“I tell people her greatness will show when she’s surrounded in college by other kids who can finish layups,” Walton said. “Because Camille is happy scoring 10 to 12 points a game and getting eight assists. So I really think she’s a prototypical Division I point guard.”
That’s not to say Jackson is without talented teammates now. Xamiya Walton, the coach’s sophomore daughter, also has Power Five offers and averages 24.0 points a game. Senior post player Christin Brewer is averaging almost a double-double at 9.1 points and 10.0 rebounds.
Having that core trio has allowed Walton to dream big — and schedule accordingly. Though Butler is a Class 2A school, its nonconference schedule reads like a who’s who of big-school powers. The Lynx beat reigning Public League champ Simeon and its losses have come against the likes of Kenwood, Batavia, Young, Evanston, Marist and Naperville North.
Whenever Butler shows up to play those schools, Walton and Jackson know what a lot of people are thinking: Who is Butler?
It’s an understandable question, given the historically low profile of Noble Schools sports and the relative newness of the school, which opened in 2013 and shares a building with Corliss in the Pullman neighborhood.
“Not only are we a 2A school, but we are an unknown 2A school,” Jackson said. “And then charter schools, Noble in specific, aren’t really known across Chicago. So I think that as far as underdogs, we’re the bottom of the bottom right now.”
“I told the girls the last four years as we were trying to grow this, people would not know us,” Walton said. “But in three to four years they would.”
Walton figured that attention would come last school year, when the Lynx had a nice mix of experience and talented freshmen. But the pandemic derailed those plans as the IHSA playoffs were canceled.
This year there will be a postseason, and Jackson and Butler — which earlier this month earned its first-ever berth in the Associated Press state rankings — are ready to chase a state title.
“That’s been the goal for coach X for years,” Jackson said. “I think we can get that done.”