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Murray State men’s basketball guard Zay Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of wanton endangerment after striking a couple with his car last month, following a verbal altercation in the Walmart parking lot in Murray.
Lessened from the original two counts of second-degree assault, a plea deal was reached and Jackson was sentenced to 30 days in jail. He will serve his time on weekends so he can keep up with his classes.
In addition to the jail sentence, Jackson, sophomore from Hammond, La., will serve 30 days of community service, attend anger management classes, pay restitution and submit a letter of apology to the two victims, Jason and Alia Clemont, of Paducah, Ky. He will also surrender his driving privileges for 30 days with exceptions to attend classes, anger management sessions, travel to and from jail and participate in community service obligations.
Both victims and Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship approved the plea agreement.
“He’s a first-time offender, and I think we treated him like we would any other Murray State student who was a first-time offender,” Blankenship said. “He’d fail if he missed too many (classes), so he’ll serve his jail time on weekends. Also, with his community service, we’re hoping we can get him to use a video of the incident and say, ‘Hey, look what I did – you can’t act like this.’”
The up-and-coming basketball star has been suspended from all men’s basketball team activities for more than a month.
After averaging 4.9 points per game as a freshman during last year’s 31-2 season for the Racers, Jackson was expected to play a larger role this season, including starting alongside fellow guard Isaiah Canaan.
There is no official word on further punishments from the athletic department, however Athletic Director Allen Ward confirmed Jackson would remain on the team this season,
“He is going to continue to be a very big part of this program and he will be part of the team this year,” Ward said. “I know he wasn’t given any special treatment; he was treated just like any other student would be that got in a situation like this, and we continue to work through it and make sure he is able to continue with his school work and his studies. We certainly don’t want that to be an issue when he comes back. We very much expect him to rejoin our team when that time ends.”
Ward confirmed Jackson would be subjected to some punishment from athletics, but said that penalty would continue to be kept in-house.
With Jackson’s status uncertain for the season, it is likely junior transfer Dexter Fields and freshman C.J. Ford will see increased playing time at guard in Jackson’s absence.
Ward continues to reiterate the program’s support of Jackson and says they are committed to helping him through this tough time.
The Racers open their season Nov. 9 at home against Brescia before playing Auburn in the first round of the Charleston Classic Nov. 15.
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Sports Editor.