Photo courtesy of NBA.
By David Cordova
The NBA Draft Class of 2017 is one of the best draft classes in history. Particularly being that a lot of the players in it had only done just one year in college. A lot of those players were NBA Draft prospects in their senior year of high school and are now getting the chance to showcase their talents on their courts of their dreams.
One player in particular that has a stood out the last few years on the prep scene is Josh Jackson. The 6-foot-8 swingman is a player that is a high-riser and has had plenty of skills since his high school days.
When asked what drives him to be successful in the game of basketball, he replied, “It’s the love for the game, I really love the game, and it’s something I want to do as a career, so, you know, I gotta do what I gotta do.”
It all started in the state of Michigan, where Jackson was raised by his mother, Apples Jones, a former basketball player at UTEP who also spent time in the Navy. “I was about five years old when I started playing,” says Jackson, “My mom, she played and my dad played, so I didn’t really have much of a choice but to play basketball.”
Jackson started out high school basketball playing at Consortium College Prep School in Detroit, where he played from eighth grade through his sophomore year of high school. In his sophomore year, he averaged 28 points, 15 rebounds and six assists per game, as he led them to the school’s first-ever state championship.
He then moved to Napa Valley, California, and played for Prolific Prep, where he averaged 31.2 points, 17.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists as a junior and 26.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game as a senior. Outside of school, he made a lot of noise on the Under Armour Association circuit with 1 Nation, the program that his mother runs.
He also gained three gold medals with USA Basketball and played in three major events as a senior, such as the McDonald’s All-American Game, the Nike Hoop Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic.
But one performance in his high school days that he had will always be remembered for those who saw it. In August 2015, as he was preparing for his senior year of high school, Jackson competed at the Big Strick Classic in New York City and scored 50 points. Even though there were plenty of All-Americans in the Gauchos Gym on that date, Jackson shone the brightest.
“I felt really good about it,” Jackson said of his performance at the Big Strick, “I wasn’t expecting to score as much as I did, but it just seemed that everything I put up was going in, so hey, I kept shooting.”
Jackson was highly-rated as a top-five player coming out of high school, being named No. 1 in the country by publications such as Scout and Rivals. At one point, he was being offered by schools such as Arizona, Michigan State, Kansas, UCLA, UNLV, Maryland and many others. But in April 2016, he decided to commit to Kansas.
In his lone season in Lawrence, Kansas, Jackson made a lot of waves with his play, by averaging 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Jayhawks. His performance led to him being named the Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year and a first-team John R. Wooden All-America selection. He ended up leading Kansas to a 31-5 record and an appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He was also the fourth freshman in school history to be named first-team All-Big 12.
After showcasing his talent in college, he decided to forgo his final three years of collegiate eligibility by entering into this past June’s NBA Draft, in which he was drafted No. 4 to the Phoenix Suns. In the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Jackson averaged 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds, which was the highest on the team.
This season, he will be a part of a team with players such as forwards Dragan Bender and Derrick Jones, center Tyson Chandler and guards such as Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis and Eric Bledsoe. Last year, the Suns were a dismal 24-58, as they had a very young team. Although they still have youth on their team, there’s no doubt that in a few years, that talented crew can be something special in the Western Conference.
This season will be Jackson’s coming-out party. His thunderous slams and energetic play will be something that will bring a lot of excitement in Phoenix. What can the fans in the Arizona desert expect from him as a rookie? “Just to play hard and get my team to win,” said Jackson. As a rookie, that’s all one can do. But Josh Jackson isn’t a regular rookie. He’s a player that has a chance to do major things and be a force in the NBA for years to come.
Highlights of Josh Jackson:
Courtesy of NextUp Recruits.
Courtesy of Elite Mixtapes.
Courtesy of Rivals.
Courtesy of NCAA.
Courtesy of AZ Finest Mixtape.
Courtesy of NBA.