Cedar Hill Graduate Leads Texas Wesleyan Women’s Basketball To Historic Season

Cedar Hill High School Class of 2003 Graduate Brenita (Williams) Jackson has a knack for turning around basketball programs, but the 2022-2023 season represents her best work yet.

Jackson, the head women’s basketball at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, led the Rams to a 27-6 record, a Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) Championship and their best-ever postseason finish. They advanced to the third round of the NAIA Tournament, with wins over Brewton-Parker College and Vanguard University, respectively, earlier this month.

For her efforts, Jackson was named SAC Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year.

And she thinks the best is yet to come.

“We have two All-Americans who can come back and work on their graduate degrees,” Jackson said. “We have several players returning, and we’ve signed some good players. This group wants to continue to make history at Texas Wesleyan.”

Last year, the Rams reached the NAIA Playoffs in Jackson’s first season. The previous year (2020-2021), they won just a single game.

“We had to change the culture and get the right people on the bus,” Jackson said. “We had to recruit players that fit our style, with a good motor and work ethic. The team bought into what we were teaching.”

Jackson moved to Cedar Hill in the late 1990s after her mother retired from the U.S. Navy. She was taking high school classes during her eighth grade year at Permenter Middle School.

By her freshman year at CHHS, Jackson was taking classes with juniors and seniors. 

A power forward, Jackson played for head coaches Jim Murphy (now retired) and Amy Tennyson (now, the head coach at Midlothian).

Jackson graduated a year early from high school and enrolled at Lon Morris College, which was a junior college located in the East Texas city of Jacksonville. She helped turn the Bearcats program around at a school that was better known for performing arts alumni such as Sandy Duncan, Tommy Tune and Alan Tudyk (who played Steve The Pirate in “Dodgeball”).

Jackson’s success at Lon Morris opened an opportunity to play NCAA Division I Basketball at Southeastern Louisiana, located an hour north of New Orleans on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain.

At Southeastern, she had a chance to meet Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, who played for the Southeastern Lions in the early 1980s.

Jackson also met her husband, former Southeastern football player, Kevin Jackson, at the Hammond, Louisiana-based university. He’s worked on her staff as an assistant coach for several years.

After graduating from Southeastern, Jackson played professionally in Denmark. It was enjoyable, but her experience coaching basketball in Denmark was more rewarding.

She returned to East Texas with the new purpose of becoming a head basketball coach. She  joined the Lon Morris staff. By age 23, she was the head coach at Lon Morris where they upset top-ranked Trinity Valley Community College.

Lon Morris closed in 2012, so Jackson set out for Cisco College in West Texas and later, San Jacinto College in the Houston area.

The Jacksons joined the coaching staff, as assistant coaches, at McNeese in Lake Charles, Louisiana before starting KBJ Academy.

“We traveled around the country with camps, clinics and helped parents with the recruiting process,” Jackson said. “We helped 4,500 student-athletes get to college.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic slowed things down, and after it was over, Jackson pondered her future.

She was helping lots of people, but while relationships existed, it wasn’t the same as the day-to-day long term connections she formed with players.

Jackson accepted the head coaching position at Little Elm, and then, Texas Wesleyan.

She credits what she learned during her Cedar Hill days with building the culture she’d take all over Texas and Louisiana, and now, at Texas Wesleyan.

“We had a culture of winning at Cedar Hill, along with a culture of working hard and being coachable,” Jackson said. “That was the culture at Cedar Hill, but it’s not the culture everywhere. And that culture ran across all of the sports.”