Hernell Jackson was small as a child and always riding his bicycle around Gardena, Calif. Because he was the son of a military man, a neighbor tagged him with the nickname Jeep. Everybody, even his grandmother, picked up on it. "When my parents called me Hernell, I knew I was in trouble," he says.
In his first two seasons as a guard at UTEP, the 6'1" Jeep knew he was in trouble whenever coach Don Haskins pulled him from a game and told him to wipe the mustard off his back. Too true to his nickname, Jackson tended to become unstable at high speeds. But last season Jackson settled down and led the 27-6 Miners in assists and steals. He won the hearts of all El Paso—he had to take a bow whenever he showed up at an El Paso Diablos minor league baseball game last summer—and a lot of respect from Haskins. "If I was in a war," says the coach, "I'd want Jeep sitting right there next to me."
Jackson's backcourt mate is 6'5" Chris Blocker, who averaged a triple double for a 35-3 juco team. And in December, Chris Sandle, a 6'6" power forward transfer from Arizona State, will be eligible. With the Jeep out front the Miners will make tracks in the WAC.