Northwest Cabarrus junior Ameer Jackson has come a long way since prematurely being pulled up to varsity last year.
The explosive point guard, who was on the JV team until Christmas his sophomore season, was forced to step up and play with the big boys after the Trojans dismissed a few players.
After finishing third in scoring with 8.5 points per game last year, he's garnered a lot more attention from his opponents, being the main scoring option for the Trojans.
"Everybody in the conference is double-teaming me, playing box-and-one," said Jackson. "I'm not going to lie - playing like that is hard."
But even with his opponents' focus, he is finding ways to score, leading the team with 17 points per game.
Northwest Cabarrus coach Daniel Jenkins said Jackson's early varsity experience is starting to pay off.
"I think that's helped him a lot," he said. "I think he has a really high ceiling, so he's going to do nothing but get better, which is in turn going to continue to make us better."
Jackson doesn't just score for the Trojans, he often makes the team go.
"He's our leader," said Jenkins. "We feed off of his energy. He comes out there with a lot of defensive, offensive energy. He keeps all our guys ready because if you're open he'll find you."
That ability to keep his teammates involved is welcomed by the Trojans.
"Some point guards just care about themselves and trying to get points," said Northwest Cabarrus senior forward Arlan Wallace. "But he cares about everybody and spreads the ball around."
Although Jackson's not used to being looked up to, he said his leadership role and making the team better is important to him.
Jenkins said the team, which started off the season winning six of its first 11 games, is about where it should be. He added that because of low summer participation, the Trojans had to start from scratch at the beginning of the season.
Jenkins said he's excited about the team's potential.
"I feel good about where we are," he said.
Although the Trojans are third in the South Piedmont Conference, Jackson knows there is a lot of room for improvement.
Jackson explained that he and his teammates need to make a better connection on the court and be prepared to play every game.
"We aren't on the same page some times," he said. "We'll come out at games not ready, but then once we get it going, we start clicking."
Jackson admits this starts with him, knowing that he'll have to play with a good attitude to pick his teammates up.
He said he spends countless hours working on his shooting, getting to practice early to take 100 shots, and on his defense.
The latter - and taking smarter shots - is something Jackson admits the team needs to get better on before they can legitimately compete for a SPC title - Jackson's main goal for his Trojans this season.
Jenkins said Jackson is an important piece of the puzzle if his team can contend and go far in the playoffs.
"He's a guy that we need to score," said Jenkins. "You'd like your point guards some times to be 'pass-first,' but we need him to be selfish some times."
With more than a year left in his high school career, Jackson has high goals for himself.
"I want to make it D-I," he said. "I just want to try to do the best for my team."