Darnell Jackson admits it was nice - special, actually - to be introduced as a starter in Kansas University's exhibition opener against Washburn on Thursday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Remember, a year ago, the power forward was forced to miss the first nine games of the season because of an NCAA-mandated suspension.
"It felt good to start, really good, but I was kind of disappointed," said Jackson, who erupted for 18 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes in the Jayhawks' 99-69 victory.
Why the mixed feelings?
"I always wanted to stand out there and see Sasha (Kaun) come out and run the floor," Jackson said. "I missed watching Sasha out there."
Kaun is out three to six weeks with a slightly torn patellar tendon in his right knee.
"I wasn't fired up that Sasha was hurt," said Jackson, also counted on more because of the suspension of inside player C.J. Giles. "I was fired up that it was the first game of the season, and everybody showed what they can do."
Jackson's career high in an actual game is 13 points. His career rebound high is 10.
He grinned when asked if he would be good for 20 points a game this season.
"No way," Jackson said. "The only way I get 20 a game is if I get loose balls and tip-ins."
Jackson might have fared even better against Washburn had he not suffered from a case of the cramps.
"I started cramping in my leg. Too much pop before the game," he said. "No more Sprite."
Jackson, who said he was especially happy to play well with his mom in the stands - she made the drive from Oklahoma City on Thursday - realizes it's a far cry from a year ago when he was sidelined.
"It feels good to not sit out a game. Nine games felt long; real long," he said. "It felt good to be with the team tonight. It felt good to look in the stands and see my mom."