KU Basketball Player Preview: Josh Jackson


Freshman wing Josh Jackson comes to the KU basketball programs as the most hyped freshman since Andrew Wiggins. Even though they’re much different players, they could have the same impact.

What kind of player is Jackson?

After a long recruitment, Josh Jackson picked playing at the KU basketball program over Arizona and Michigan State. The top ranked player in the 247 Composite, Jackson is a special player. Don’t just take my word for it, listen to 247 Director of Basketball Scouting Jerry Meyer, “I would mention Jackson’s ball handling and passing. He loves to distribute the ball. And at 6-foot-7 he has the instincts of a high level point guard in seeking and manufacturing opportunities for his teammates. Next is his work on the defensive end of the court. In an age where many top prospects hide defensively, Jackson seeks out the opponent’s biggest threat with the purpose of shutting him down. And he is also an eager rebounder.” Meyer continued. “As far as his scoring is concerned, Jackson is one of the top scoring threats in the class. Yes, the consistency of his long range jumper is the weakness of his game. But he is a natural scorer, one who can find points wherever they are available.”

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What roles will Jackson have at Kansas?

Bill Self is salivating at all Jackson can do, and will use him in a myriad of different ways. On the defensive end, Jackson will excel in Self’s defensive system. He can defend three, and possibly four positions on the floor based on the matchup. This will allow the defense to switch constantly, denying good post looks and penetration. He’ll also be an immediate contributor rebounding on the defensive glass, as his motor and very good athleticism will allow him to pull down what Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas miss. Look for the Jayhawks to force more than the seven steals per game they did a year ago. Last season’s starter Wayne Selden forced only .7 per game, and Jackson should come close to doubling that, with his length, aggressiveness and quick hands. Jackson, along with Devonte Graham and a lesser extent Frank Mason, will make Kansas one of the best defensive backcourts in the country.

On offense, Jackson is unlike any wing Self has had in recent memory. Jackson can handle and pass like a point guard, and has the athleticism to drive and finish at the rim. In fact, Meyer compared Jackson to a young Kobe Bryant. One knock in Jackson was his slight frame, as he played most of his high school basketball at around 180 pounds. Under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy, Jackson has packed on weight, and is around 206 now. The added weight should allow Jackson to maintain his aggressive play through the long season. Jackson’s shooting stroke is another weakness some scouts mentioned. It isn’t broken, but his mechanics could use some refinement. Under assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, Jackson is fine tuning his mechanics to become a more consistent shooter. He could easily shoot 35% or better from beyond the arc this season.

Meyer compared Jackson to a young Kobe Bryant.

Jackson’s leadership style will have a positive impact on the Jayhawk team. He doesn’t need to be a prominent leader, but he has a fantastic makeup as a player, and is as competitive as any player in the country. Fans have been clamoring for a take-charge type player, and Jackson is certainly that. He and an improved Devonte Graham will provide all the vocal leadership on the floor that Kansas will need.

What stats can Kansas fans expect?

Josh Jackson will be one of the more productive freshmen that have ever played in Allen Fieldhouse. Pick your cliché; Jackson will be a do-it-all, a Swiss Army knife, and a stat sheet stuffer. It’s actually difficult to pick an area where he won’t do well. It also makes it difficult to project a final stat line. I don’t look for Jackson to be the leading scorer on the team, or probably even second. He definitely won’t approach the last hyped freshman, Andrew Wiggins, in scoring when Wiggins put up over 17 points per game. Jackson should settle in at 11-14 per game. Wiggins did average nearly six rebounds per game, a number Jackson could easily match. That seems to be where the comparison ends. Jackson will far outdo the talented Canadian in assists, and could get five per game, as Wiggins got only 1.5. On the defensive end, Jackson will be very disruptive, and get two steals per game. With his playmaking skill, Jackson will also turn it over less than Wiggins, when he averaged over two per game. In summary, a final stat line of 12/5.5/4/2 is realistic for the future top five draft choice.