Jan. 4, 2010
By Jeremy Rosenthal, IUHoosiers.com writer
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - In four seasons of college basketball Amber Jackson totaled 1,738 points and grabbed 932 rebounds. Kim Roberson departed Indiana with the all-time steals record, and is known for making the pass that Whitney Thomas tipped in with .2 seconds remaining, to propel the Hoosiers to a WNIT victory over Dayton last year.
Because of their athletic success, both former Hoosiers and 2009 graduates have continued their careers playing professional basketball overseas.
Jackson has always loved traveling. She was born on a military base in Japan and has also spent time living in the Philippines and visited Mexico and Guam.
After graduation she signed a one-year contract with Club Baloncesto Arxil in Pontevedra, Spain, which she described as being right above Portugal. Jackson said she has enjoyed the atmosphere.
"It's truly an experience," Jackson said. "The culture, the food, even the style of play is so different. I grew up as a military brat so it wasn't really a culture shock for me, just more of an adjustment. It's basketball, basketball, basketball. It's your job, all day almost everyday is focused solely on the game, a basketball players dream."
Jackson has had a lot of success on the court as she has earned league MVP honors three times this season, including the last two weeks prior to Christmas break.
For Roberson, her decision to play in South Korea was influenced by it being the native country of her mother. Roberson said she has enjoyed getting to know her mother's side of the family, which she had only met once.
Roberson is averaging 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds through 18 games and her team, Samsung Life Bichumi is second in the league standings.
Living in countries outside the United States, have posed some communication problems for both Jackson and Roberson.
Jackson's coach only speaks Spanish, so she was a little lost during speeches and instructions during practices and games. Luckily for her, one of the native players spoke English and translated for her. Roberson said she has experienced some of these issues, but feels like the team is very accepting and hard working.
"Communication and culture differences at times are hard, but it helps when everyone is invested and willing to take the time to understand each other," Roberson said.
Another area, in which both former Hoosiers agreed on, was the value of their experiences playing basketball and taking classes at Indiana.
Jackson said she came to IU because of the strength and competiveness of the Big Ten conference and it has prepared her well for her career overseas.
"I wanted the challenge and now I'm really seeing the benefits," she said. "Day in and day out I was able to play alongside and against top forwards and post players at the college level, then when I went overseas the transition was smooth."
Roberson said she also feels like the tough competition and development she went through at IU, have helped her grow as a player and person.
Jackson and Roberson said while they are having a lot of fun overseas, they miss the people and surroundings in Bloomington.
"I miss the people at IU whether it's teammates, coaches, friends, faculty and fans," Roberson said. "The people are what made IU for me."
Playing professional basketball is a challenging and time-consuming job. Jackson said that although her team has numerous workouts and practice sessions daily, she had more free time then she was accustomed to. She has taken advantage of this time by developing hobbies such as photography, sight seeing, cooking and designing earrings.
Both Roberson and Jackson are engaging in unique experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives. Jackson said she values the time she is spending in Spain tremendously.
"The most rewarding aspect was the traveling and having the opportunity to live in another country," she said. "To embark on such a journey is priceless."