Taiyanna Jackson: My Journey to KU

by Taiyanna Jackson

Being at KU is special.

Throughout my career, I’ve played AAU basketball, went to a Junior College, and had the opportunity to attend many different schools later on in my career.

Every chapter means a lot to me.

But this one here at Kansas already holds a special place in my heart.

Putting on that jersey and stepping onto the court in Allen Fieldhouse as a Jayhawk is a moment that only few can understand or have ever felt.

Kansas is a basketball school.

There aren’t many places that can even claim this type of legacy and heritage.

They say there’s no place like home — I say there’s no place like Kansas.

Kansas Jayhawks

Follow the Yellowbrick Road  

My path to Kansas wasn’t the traditional one. During high school, I did make a name for myself, but I wasn’t a top recruit. And honestly, I feel like I was a bit overlooked during the recruitment process.

I wanted another opportunity to showcase myself and prove what I could do.

So, instead of just accepting whatever offer was out there, I chose the Junior College route. I wanted to get the playing time to show the basketball community what I was capable of.

Sure, it was a bit of a bet, but I became a better basketball player, a better athlete, and when my time came to go through the recruitment process again, I had film and numbers to back up my ability.

I got several offers, and honestly, it was tough weighing my options. During COVID, you couldn’t really do your traditional visits, you know?

Deciding where you’ll spend the next few years in your career based on a few Zoom calls wasn’t ideal.

But, we made it work.

The Jayhawks really made me feel like they cared about me as a player and a person. I know, it sounds like a standard response, but seriously, KU did really do that.

They demonstrated at every opportunity how invested they were in my success — they watched my JUCO games, talked to me about my role on the team, and showed me how they needed a player with my skillset.

It wasn’t just talk.

It truly felt like a partnership with KU.

They needed me. And honestly, I needed them.

It felt good to be wanted by such a prestigious program. So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to put everything down on paper when it was time to commit.

Kansas Jayhawks

Learning to love the game

Speaking of commitment, basketball wasn’t a love-at-first-sight kind of thing for me. When I was young, I just played because I was tall. Everyone in my family thought it was a good idea, so I just kind of went with it.

But the love slowly grew as I did.

The more I played, the more I learned about the game and the industry, the more I fell for it. I realized basketball was not just good for my physical health but also for my mental health. It was something that allowed me to get an education, further my personal growth, and support me on my journey of making it to the league one day.

I think it’s important to understand that love and commitment don’t always go hand in hand right away. It might take time.

But when you stay focused and on track, things will work out. And good things will happen.

Today, I’m as committed as ever.

You see me put in extra hours in the weight room, at conditioning, and after practice. I want to keep improving each day and show the country what I’m capable of.

With the coaches, teammates, and resources here at KU, it’s just a matter of your willpower. If you want to get better, Kansas has everything to make that happen.

I’m focused on the craft now and getting to the best version of myself.

Within such a short period of time already, Kansas really feels like home. I love being a Jayhawk, and despite my unconventional path to Lawrence, I’m fully locked in.

Let’s do this, Jayhawks!