Back in 2011, point guard Bryan Dougher served as the Seawolves’ floor general and one of the team’s biggest leaders. Meanwhile, his young backup Anthony Jackson had the chance to learn from one of the program’s great players about what it took to fill that role.
In 2013, history seems to be repeating itself. Now Jackson is the team’s starting point guard and also one of the team captains, while the talented and quick sophomore Carson Puriefoy is learning from him.
“I ask AJ for advice all the time,” Puriefoy said. “On the court and off the court, he’s a great leader, and I’m glad he’s my captain.”
Jackson has had a lot of success during his first three years at Stony Brook. He has been a major part of a program that has won the America East regular season title for two of the last three years.
Last season, the 6-foot, 185-pound guard had a breakout season. He averaged 11.3 points per game, and lead the team in three point field goals and assists.
Jackson also had a 20-point performance in the Seawolves 71-58 win over UMass in the first round of last year’s NITs. He buried four out of five three point attempts in the game.
“He’s as good a leader as we’ve had, and I love his toughness,” head coach Steve Pikiell says. “He played behind Bryan Dougher, a real good player, for two years. Never complained, never said a word. He just continued to work, and get better and better.”
One thing the senior guard is looking to improve upon this year is speaking up more on and off the court.
“Coming off of last season, I wasn’t as vocal as I should have been,” Jackson said. “I feel like this season is another season to get better at that aspect. I want to be a great leader to the young guys.”
Now that Jackson is establishing himself as one the team’s leaders and core players, he is looking to provide guidance for the young up-and-coming Puriefoy.
“I feel like we’ve got to be the floor generals,” Jackson said. “We’re the point guards of the team, and I’m trying to teach him the system the way that I learned it.”
During his freshman campaign the 6-foot, 165-pound Puriefoy gave Stony Brook a lot to be excited about. Coming off the bench last season he averaged 5.3 points per game, 1.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds.
Puriefoy also came up big in last year’s America East Tournament semifinals game. In a game in which many of his veteran teammates struggled, the freshman helped keep his team close with 16 points and five rebounds.
The man they call “Trey” was a major weapon on Pikiell’s bench last season, in large part due to his quickness.
“He’s the fastest guy on our team, and maybe one of the fastest guys in the conference,” Pikiell said. “We’re looking for him to take a real big step this year in his development as a sophomore.”
Puriefoy’s quickness and Jackson’s sharp shooting are major reasons why the duo had success last season while playing together on the court last year.
“I like to get in the lane and kick It out, and AJ’s the best shooter in the conference,” Puriefoy said. “I know when I get him the ball, he’s gonna make the shots.”
While the two players say they enjoy sharing the backcourt, that does not mean they take it easy on each other when going head-to-head in practice scrimmages.
“We try to better each other each day we come out and step out on the floor,” Jackson says. “My thing is once we step around that rectangle, you’re an enemy.”
Puriefoy agrees that the practices can get competitive, but also believes they are crucial for both players getting better.
“Practice is always tough, but that’s what we need to do, to make sure we’re ready for the season,” Puriefoy says. “Once we’re off the court we’re like family, but everything’s competitive during practice.”
That competitive drive will be needed this season, if the Seawolves are to finally win the America East Conference tournament. After dealing with frustrating ends to the seasons of the past three years, Jackson says it is his passion for the game that keeps him and his teammates coming back determined.
“It’s just the hunger. We love basketball, and basketball is life,” Jackson said. “We go out and play our game, and try and go out and do what we do best.”
Coming into the season, Jackson has a secure spot in the starting five. Puriefoy will likely have a bigger role on the team this year than last season, but could once again be relegated to coming off the bench.
But Puriefoy does not see that as a problem. “My role is whatever the team needs me to do,” Puriefoy said. “Whatever my coach needs me to do, whatever my teammates need me to do, I’m gonna do it.”
Coach Pikiell recently said that Puriefoy could start for SBU in certain matchups, particularly when he wants to go with a smaller and quicker lineup. Either way, Puriefoy seems to know his role on the team.
“(My job is) to bring energy, and get my teammates involved,” Puriefoy said. “I need to just come in, and get assists, and make my team better.”
No matter who starts, or who comes off the bench, one thing that is clear is that the Seawolves will need consistent production out of both Jackson and Puriefoy. With frontcourt mainstay Tommy Brenton now gone, there will be a need for the team’s backcourt players to elevate their games on both sides of the ball.
This will likely start with the senior Jackson, who will be looking to close out his Stony Brook career with a trip to the NCAA tournament. His head coach believes that he is more than talented enough to get his team to the tourney.
“I love the fact that he’s earned his career, and he’s a really good player now,” Pikiell said. “He’ll continue to play after this year. That’s how good I think he is.”