Jackson Emery drops basketball for dirt

Scrappy Jackson Emery, BYU's all-time steals leader, has reportedly decided to retire from basketball and accept a job working for a start-up called EcoScraps.

He jokes that he has dropped basketball for dirt, trading in his high-tops for a position with a company that "collects food waste, which would otherwise be thrown away, and through a completely organic process turns it into high quality soil conditioner."

But to give up his basketball career at a time when earning an overseas contract during an NBA lockout is difficult leaves Emery with a bittersweet feeling. He tried to get a look, but ultimately decided to get into the business world instead, according to KSL.

Emery got workouts with the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves with designs on landing a job in Europe, before calling it quits. "It's definitely hard," said Emery, "because any time you hang up your shoes and realize 'oh, this is it' -- that's never ever hit me."

"To hang it up and realize that it's over, it's tough. But that's life, and you've got to do what's best for you and your family, and I feel like this is the best decision."

Perhaps what I'll best remember about Emery was how a former Mr. Basketball in Utah and prideful player like himself comfortably deferred to backcourt mate Jimmer Fredette as Jimmermania swept the nation.

I watched Emery carefully when BYU held its first press conference at the NCAA tournament in Denver before the start of the opening round. He sat alongside Fredette as reporters directed their first eight questions to The Jimmer.

Finally, with the ninth question, it was a question for Emery.

This year you've been Jimmer-oriented on offense. How has that been for you guys, one guy carrying the offense?

Emery, the team's second-leading scorer, never flinched. He answered with compliments for Fredette.

Later in the locker room, a television reporter asked Emery what his favorite Jimmer sign was that he's seen from the crowd. "There are so many," said Emery, who finished the season with 101 steals and 97 assists against 35 turnovers. "I can't pinpoint one."

After the season, Fredette became a lottery pick while Emery's agent tried to arrange something overseas. In the end, it wasn't to be. Emery decided to go with the job offer that had nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with turning nothing into something.

Ever the loyal wingman, Emery is now taking his talents to a company founded by a high school classmate where he'll be working with compost.

"I've always had the dream of starting my own business or being part of a business that will thrive," Emery told the Daily Herald. "Even in school, I've had an entrepreneurial frame of mind. I always thought I'd be part of a business that will grow."

At BYU, he proved it.