The basketball part, perhaps, since he was a four-year standout at Buena Vista High School in Saginaw, Mich., and the third leading scorer in state history.
But the part about earning a degree from the University of Notre Dame? That would have seemed much too far-fetched for the second youngest of James and Sarah Jackson's 14 children.
"Coming from where I come from, an urban area, it's different," said Jackson, who is on schedule to earn a diploma from the College of Arts and Letters with a major in sociology and computer applications. "I could never see myself coming here. Having the opportunity to graduate from here, I could never see that."
It's true. Come May, Jackson will graduate from Notre Dame, and the improbable story will be a reality, one that Jackson doesn't take for granted.
"It's an exciting time for me," Jackson said. "Not only to close out a fun career, but nobody could ask for anything better than what I've had. The things that happen on the court, I'm very thankful for. But the things that happen off the court have really made me proud and made my family proud."
The things that Jackson has done on the court have been pretty impressive. One of just eight players in Irish history with more than 100 career starts, Jackson dished out his 600th career assist at Cincinnati last weekend. Two days later, he shredded Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone, handing out 15 assists to compensate for a rare 0-for-7 shooting night.
The performance prompted Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim to heap Jackson with praise.
"Jackson did something that no one else has done against our zone," Boeheim said. "I don't recall someone getting that deep into our zone as often as he did, which is what gives (Luke) Harangody all those 8-to-10 foot baskets."
"That's a great compliment coming from one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game," Jackson said. "I was sore the next two days. Penetrating that zone is tough. They're very long. I tried to use my quickness.
"Even when I got in the lane, you've got those trees back there, so you've got to be creative. A lot of times they didn't even know I passed the ball. It was fun."
From the moment Jackson walked on the court for the Irish back in 2006, he's been having a blast. He jumped into the starting lineup as a freshman in place of suspended point guard Kyle McAlarney and helped lead the Irish to a 24-8 record and an NCAA tournament berth for the first time in four seasons.
He averaged a career-high 5.1 assist per game as a sophomore, playing an instrumental role in Harangody's ascension to Big East player of the year. He improved his scoring to 10.6 points per game as a junior. This season, he became just the fourth player in Irish history to score at least 1,000 points while handing out more than 500 assists.
"He's been great," said Irish head coach Mike Brey of Jackson. "I thought he could get inside (the Syracuse 2-3 zone) and make some plays. I didn't think he could get in there as much as he did. That really became our offense. For him, it was a matter of, 'I know I can get in there and make plays for people.'"
Jackson epitomizes Brey's mantra of dealing with adversity, putting a tough loss in the past, and moving on to the next challenge. Like Harangody, Jackson's competitive light shines bright, which is what has made them such a dynamic inside-outside force for the Irish.
Yet there have been the ups and downs. Notre Dame will have to overachieve a bit over the final 12 Big East regular-season games in order to avoid a second straight absence from the NCAA tournament.
But as much as Jackson despises coming up on the short end of a score, he's just as optimistic and inspired the next time the Irish take the court.
"I'm the type of person who hates to lose," Jackson said. "I'm a sore loser. I may go home and hate everybody. But the next day, I'm going to come back smiling, put in the work, and then try to figure out ways to win."
As Jackson was departing Buena Vista High School four years ago, he wore his emotions on his sleeve. He's learned to make adjustments in his demeanor as he's grown through the Notre Dame experience.
"A lot of people took that as cockiness," said Jackson, a four-time all-state selection who led his squad to two Class C state championships. "I was a confident guy coming in. I'm still a confident guy.
"But at the same time, I would never want anyone to assume I'm just a cocky guy. I'm not. Everyone that's met me knows that I'm as confident as it gets and I'm probably one of the hardest workers ever. But I'm one of the most gentle teddy bears in the world.
"I've grown a lot. The coaches have helped me out. The players have helped me out. This university has humbled me. It's been a great experience for me."
On a squad that plays just six or seven players a game, there's no rest for the weary, particularly Jackson, who hasn't played less than 37 minutes in any of Notre Dame's six Big East games, including a full 40 minutes in four of those games.
"My mom feels it more than I feel it," Jackson laughed. "She'll say, 'You played a lot of minutes last night and I'm sore.' I'm like, 'How are you sore? You just watched the game.'
"But hey, I'm 21. I turn 22 on the 30th. I'm young. I signed up for this. I want to play basketball as long as I can. However minutes it is, I really don't care. As long as I'm playing, I'm happy."
And as long as he's playing at Notre Dame, it will seem like a dream come true. That's why he wouldn't have believed his path was leading to Notre Dame when he was growing up.
"If someone would have told me that, we would have been fighting," said Jackson, which means someone would have been trying to pass along an untruth to him. "Whoever would have told me that, we would have been scrapping."