Jackson Stormo came home with more homework than most Pepperdine University students when the campus was shut down in March by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former San Marcos High star had to find a new school where he could play basketball.
“I spent hours and hours on it with the computer,” said Stormo, who made the WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll last season for Pepperdine’s basketball team. “I did a lot of research.”
He wound up choosing Siena College of upstate New York, accepting a scholarship offer to transfer to the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference power next year. The Saints finished with a win-loss record of 20-10 and won the regular-season MAAC championship with a 15-5 mark.
“It’s a great fit for me,” said Stormo, a 6-foot-8 and 250-pound center who will sit out next season as a redshirt junior. “They’ve got a really great coach (Carmen Maciariello) who seems like a great guy, too. He had them poised to win their conference in his first year as coach and take them to the NCAA Tournament when the season was cancelled.
“They were peaking at the right time, having won 13 of their last 14 games.”
Stormo signed with Pepperdine in 2018 after having led San Marcos to the CIF-Southern Section Division 2A championship. He was named as the 2A Player of the Year and was also a first-team selection to the Cal-Hi All-State Division 2 squad after averaging 17.8 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.3 assists per game for the Royals.
The Waves, however, switched to a more up-tempo offense this season, playing without a traditional center. The change reduced Stormo’s playing time from his freshman year.
“With the talent we had, our starting center was a matchup nightmare for everyone in the WCC,” Stormo said. “It made the most sense based on our talent that we’d have a perimeter-centric style.
“I don’t think anyone necessarily saw that coming, so I left there in a very good place. I have no hard feelings or animosity with the coaching staff and the program. I really enjoyed my two years there, and leaving there was definitely a hard choice.”
He had planned to take a recruiting trip to Siena’s Loudonville campus, located just outside of Albany, until the NCAA banned all home and campus visits by extending the spring “dead period” until May.
“I’ve talked a lot of the coaches and to people in that community, to ex-players, and heard nothing but great things about the school,” Stormo said. “Albany is actually a little bit bigger of a city, but it’s also a college town with six colleges in the area.
“I think it’ll be a really fun place for me to play and go to school.”
He was majoring in sports administration at Pepperdine but will have to find a new major at Siena. He earned Scholar-Athlete honors while on the Malibu campus.
“I’m looking into becoming a communications major with a focus on digital marketing,” Stormo said. “I’ll try to get some classes in sports communications. I’m still figuring that all out.
“I’m still on track to graduate in four years, so I’ll probably end up doing some sort of graduate program in my last year there.”
He is unsure when he will be allowed to travel to Siena. He moved back home with his parents, Owen and Alexia Stormo, about a month ago and has been completing his spring studies online.
“I am super-lucky in terms of my workout situation,” Stormo said. “I have a hoop in the backyard. It’s not ideal, but it’s a hoop. And my mom is a physical therapist so we also have a decent amount of exercise equipment.
“It’s not the ideal offseason, but I’m thankful to have it better than many others. And I’ll have an extra year to work on my game.”