EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As a point guard, Jarrett Jack loves making the perfect pass, such as lobbing a beautiful assist to a big man for a thunderous throwdown.
But he's eagerly awaiting his opportunity to be on the receiving end of another kind of dish-off next weekend, scoring big with something rectangular instead of spherical.
A decade after forgoing his senior year of eligibility at Georgia Tech to enter the NBA draft, Jack is about to make good on a promise he made to his mother, Louise Jack, when he elected to leave school in 2005. He will receive his degree in business management at commencement ceremonies in Atlanta on Saturday morning, hours before the Nets tip off that night against the Hornets in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"It's just something that I want to share with my family,'' Jack said. "That's a personal achievement, family achievement, that I would accept for myself and am able to achieve, and I want to be there for that moment. I don't want to let that moment go by. It's going to be probably the most special moment, if not the biggest moment, of my life. That and getting drafted, they kind of align from my perspective.''
Jack is glowing with pride, knowing he's completed a significant journey that is dear to his mother's heart.
He was no different from anyone else with his eyes set on the NBA. He wanted to turn pro when he thought the time was right, figuring it was prudent to jump at the opportunity, thinking he still could complete his course work during summers.
So when he was selected 22nd by the Nuggets in a draft oozing with talented point guards such as Chris Paul, current teammate Deron Wiliams and Raymond Felton, he started formulating the best way to attack finishing things up. Every time he saw his mother, she reminded him of his pledge and how he vowed to fulfill it.
In a matter of days, he can have it hanging up somewhere after completing an exhausting journey. Georgia Tech's 9 a.m. ceremony is sandwiched between the Nets' matchup with the 76ers at Barclays Center Friday night and their 7 p.m. road game against the Hornets. Seems like quite a 24-hour whirlwind.
Not to Jack, though. He's "been under crazier circumstances.''
"I think allowing my schedule to kind of figure its way out and allow me to be there is kind of like God's work, I believe,'' Jack said. "So I'm going to try to take advantage of it as best as I can and then still try to be able to come perform.''
Teammate Joe Johnson knew Jack before Jack was traded to the Nets from Cleveland in July, and the two are neighbors in Atlanta. Seeing Jack on the verge of graduating is a great thing for him.
"I think that's pretty big for him,'' Johnson said. "That's probably something that he really had focused on and really wanted to do, so I'm happy for him. Not a lot of guys get a chance to do it, especially after you turn pro. So that's a big accomplishment.''
Jack thought of life beyond basketball, refusing to let the complacency that can accompany fortune and fame seep into his life. That's why walking across that stage, signaling that he indeed kept his word, will feel far better than the best assist he's ever made on any court.
"Yeah, you've got every reason to not do it once you attain your dream or you are financially stable,'' Jack said. "Just to go out there and feel a little bit more well rounded, whole. I definitely felt a whole lot prouder than what it was supposed to feel like after it was all said and done.''