Cougars introduce Jackson

Candice Jackson was introduced at TD Arena as the new women's head basketball coach for the College of Charleston on Tuesday. (Brad Nettles/Staff)

When Candice M. Jackson heard the College of Charleston was looking for a new women's basketball coach, she immediately reached out to one of her best friends in the business - Natasha Adair.

Adair and Jackson were assistant coaches together at Wake Forest and became close during their two seasons there before both moved on to other coaching jobs.

Adair, who over the past two seasons compiled a 35-31 record as the College of Charleston's head coach, recently became the head coach at Georgetown University. Jackson, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Duke, wanted to know more about the Charleston job. So she went straight to her old friend.

It didn't take long for Jackson, 31, to realize that this was a job she was going to pursue.

"Natasha is actually one of my mentors in this business," said Jackson, who was officially introduced as the Cougars head coach Tuesday afternoon at TD Arena. "We're very close and she and I talked a lot about this job.

"She told me a lot about the program. We've been bouncing ideas off of each other for the last two years, so when this opportunity came up it was a no brainer for me to go after it. I kind of had the inside scoop."

As Jackson and Charleston athletic director Joe Hull toured the downtown campus, it became apparent to the former Michigan State star that this was the place for her. If offered the job, she knew she would accept.

"You walk around, you see how friendly the people are and the support system in place and I just knew this was where I wanted to be," Jackson said. "I don't think Joe had to sell this place one bit. It kind of sells itself."

Jackson said she and Adair have similar coaching philosophies. Like Adair, Jackson wants to push the ball up the floor and use defense to create turnovers and easy baskets.

"It will kind of be an extension of what Natasha has done here," Jackson said. "I have my own style, but we're going to move our feet, we're going to get up and down the court, but the average fan will see a few different half-court sets.

"We'll probably press more and be a little more aggressiveness on the defensive end of the floor. But other than that, it'll be a lot of things that Natasha did that made this team so successful."

Jackson met briefly with the Cougar players on Monday. Forward Breanna Bolden, a rising sophomore, said she's excited to see what Jackson brings to the program.

"She's an amazing person," Bolden said. "She's really interesting. She seems like she's going to be a great coach. I'm excited. Having coach Adair leave was disappointing, but I understand that coaching is a business and things like that are going to happen. I think we got a great coach to replace her."

Hull said Jackson was the obvious choice for the position.

"Candice just blew everyone on the committee away during the interview process," Hull said. "We had some very strong candidates, but Candice was head-and-shoulders above the rest."

Jackson, 31, was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Duke University for the past three seasons. The Blue Devils made back-to-back NCAA Elite Eight appearances in 2012 and 2013.

Jackson also spent two years at Wake Forest and four seasons at Richmond as an assistant coach.

Jackson played four seasons at Michigan State and led the Spartans to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004. She was a captain during her senior season in 2004.