Split decision

"I've told him to make his decision and not to feel guilty," said Lekisch Williams-Keene, Jackson's 32-year-old sister, with whom he moved to live in Los Angeles. "Doesn't matter if you hurt anyone's feelings. That's life."

Jackson's answer on Wednesday will unlock one of the most compelling mysteries of this recruiting season and end a chapter that began some 31 months ago aside a restaurant table with track charts and big talk.

The obstacles and pressures of his past two-and-a-half years would have thrown many prospects off course.

"Adoree' has always set his own bar," Williams-Keene said. "I knew my brother was destined for something at age 3. He had this discerned spirit about him, like he was going to do something spectacular in life."

No doubt, he's on his way.

* * *

Jackson returned home from the June 2011 trip to Los Angeles with paperwork in hand to process his transfer from Belleville East to Junipero Serra.

Weeks passed. Biggs, the anxious track coach, heard nothing. Jackson began to forget about the idea. Before the trip, he never envisioned California as a place he'd like to live.

"I thought of myself as the hometown guy," Jackson said.

More than that, his dad would never go for it.

Biggs called the elder Jackson a few weeks before the fall semester at Serra. It was the first Adoree's father had heard of the proposal.

You're in Belleville, Ill., Biggs told Christopher Jackson. He's not going to get coaching and training he needs to develop into a champion.

Adoree's parents prayed on the decision and sought advice.

"It was hard," Christopher Jackson said. "We had a lot of hope that the best would come out in him."

From the start, Adoree's two words failed to operate in harmony; Belleville and Los Angeles are just too different.

A former coach in Illinois, for instance, thought Jackson had transferred to the high school attended by Tom Brady. Brady, in fact, graduated from a school by the same name - 400 miles north of L.A. in San Mateo, Calif.

Less forgivable, Jackson's football coaches at Serra initially called him "Chi-town." They knew he was from Illinois. Must be Chicago. But Belleville sits 300 miles southwest of the Windy City, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

Back in Belleville, they remember him well. He starred on the track, jumping nearly 22 feet as an eighth-grader at Central Junior High to set a state record. He dunked on rival Belleville West in a freshman basketball game and made his mark in football as a running back.

"People were just in awe of him," said Bill Wright, who coached Jackson in junior high basketball and introduced him to the long jump. "When he took off, people gasped. It was really cool."

During a recent visit to his old schools while home in January, Jackson drew wide-eyed looks. He talked to a second-grade class at Westhaven Elementary, advised an athletic third-grader-- at the urging of a former teacher -- on the importance of focusing on academics.

At the high school, former classmates flocked to him.

"He's a mini-celebrity here," said Jim Loyet, athletic director at Belleville East.

That the people of Jackson's former hometown never lost sight of him speaks to his magnetic persona.

"I remember when he called me that summer and said he was leaving," said Jeff Creek, Jackson's freshman basketball coach at Belleville East. "I knew I was going to miss him, but mostly because of the kid we were going to lose."

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