Amber Jackson was still learning how to shoot a layup four years ago when Marquin Chandler started his college basketball career at George Washington University.
Today, they are the breakout stars of their respective teams at San Jose State, which will open Western Athletic Conference play this week. Chandler leads the men's team in scoring and rebounding, a feat matched by Jackson on the women's team.
``I didn't know she would have the type of impact she's had,'' women's coach Janice Richard said. ``If you've been in the business long enough, every now and then you get a sleeper like that. The sky's the limit for her. Before she leaves, I expect her to be an All-American.''
A 6-foot-2 freshman forward from Oxnard, Jackson is averaging 16.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and shooting almost 70 percent.
Chandler, a 6-foot-7 senior forward from Newark, is averaging 19.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Chandler, a transfer from George Washington, was a star at Memorial High in Newark and led his team to the state championship game as a senior, but it was fatherhood that gave him the focus he needed.
``It made me more humble,'' said Chandler, whose daughter, Tianna, was born during the first of his two seasons at George Washington. ``I can't be that selfish. It makes you more responsible.''
Chandler said he seldom goes out on weekends, choosing to spend that time with his daughter, who is now 4 and lives in Newark with her mother.
The responsibility has affected his approach to basketball and to classwork -- he is on track to graduate this spring with a degree in criminal administration of justice.
``Marquin has been here 2 1/2 years and they've been 2 1/2 years of growth,'' Coach Phil Johnson said.
``He carries himself as an adult,'' teammate Mike McFadden said. ``He's more or less our team captain.''
Unlike Chandler, Jackson got a late start on the game. The daughter of two Navy officers, she was born in Japan and lived in the Philippines, Guam, Virginia, Texas and Washington. She had never picked up a basketball prior to settling down in Oxnard as a middle schooler. She started playing, she said, simply because she was tall.
She might not have known much about the game then, but she knew she had the genes to play. Her half-sister, Angela, was a two-time All-Big 12 selection at Texas and was drafted into the WNBA by the Washington Mystics.
Amber Jackson progressed quickly. Averaging only two points per game as a sophomore at Onxard High, she upped that average to 10 as a junior. She scored 20.5 points per game as a senior and was named the MVP of her league.
But she still had doubts about herself. Richard recalled that when she recruited Jackson, the teenager asked, ``What do you see in me?''
Those doubts are starting to go away. Jackson said, ``I'm figuring out now that I'm a good player.''