Point guard Jarrett Jack may run Georgia Tech's offense, but he doesn't run the team's locker room, which is why the TV was tuned to Black Entertainment Television as the Yellow Jackets prepared for practice last Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee. Jack prefers NCAA to BET, at least when the tournament is in session, so he went searching for a television on which he could watch hoops. "You might pick up something that could help you if you face that team later on," he said. "I'm just a basketball fan, and you never know when you're going to see somebody make some great play to win a game."
Given that attitude, it's a shame that Jack, a 6'3" sophomore, couldn't have been in front of a TV on Sunday to watch himself make a pair of game-changing plays against Boston College that propelled the Yellow Jackets to a 57-54 victory and into their first Sweet 16 since 1996. With 10 seconds on the shot clock and Georgia Tech trailing 54-53, Jack penetrated the lane and drew a fifth foul on BC's best player, forward Craig Smith, earning himself the two free throws that gave the Jackets a one-point lead with 30 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, he picked off a pass and went in for a dunk, giving Tech a three-point lead with 5.5 seconds remaining. "You can X and O all you want," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said afterward, "but the bottom line is Jarrett Jack made two huge plays that won this game."
Jack's appetite for watching basketball is never satisfied. Even as he was giving interviews about his heroics against Boston College, he had one eye on the Vanderbilt-North Carolina State telecast in the corner of the locker room. "I got a high screen from [center] Luke [Schenscher] and they switched it and...ooh, Freije got 'em," he said, as he watched Vandy's Matt Freije hit a late-game jumper. "Anyway, I got the screen...."
And the rest is Georgia Tech basketball history, a subject on which Jack is his team's leading expert. He is one of the few, for instance, who has a clear memory of James Forrest's three-pointer at the buzzer that beat Southern Cal 79-78 in the second round of the 1992 tournament, also in Milwaukee. Jack has seen the shot replayed dozens of times in television promos for the tournament. "I never get tired of seeing it," he says. "Maybe someday I'll have a commercial of my own like that." And just maybe his teammates will let him watch it in the locker room.