Kansas basketball: Has Jayhawks guard Elmarko Jackson hit rock bottom?

Kansas Jayhawks' guard Elmarko Jackson must start contributing in a positive fashion
Kansas Jayhawks guard Elmarko Jackson
Kansas Jayhawks guard Elmarko Jackson / Porter Binks/GettyImages

Elmarko Jackson's line from the Kansas basketball loss to UCF was startling, and not in a good way. In 22 minutes, he didn't score a basket. In fact, he didn't even shoot a shot or corral a rebound. He did have three assists but also tallied two turnovers and three fouls.

It was the second straight game in which Jackson failed to score as he was blanked against TCU in the Big 12 opener. In fact, in 15 games, Jackson has scored in double-digits just twice. He has three games in which he failed to score at all. Not surprisingly, KU lost two of those and just squeaked out the third.

He has struggled to make baskets when he does shoot. For the season, he's connected on only 25 of his 71 shots, or 35.2 percent. It's even worse from three-point range, as he's hit just eight of his 28 attempts, for 28.6 percent. Only from the free throw has he shined, going 23-25, good for 92 percent. Thank goodness for that glimmer of positivity.

His struggles come as a surprise. Jackson was listed as the 26th best prospect on the ESPN Hot 100 list. On3.com gave this scouting report:

"Jackson is a jet-quick lead guard, one of the fastest in the country with the ball in his hands. The jump shot can get flat, but he’s shooting it better off the bounce."


Other than the flat shots, Jackson hasn't really displayed the speed aspect of his game, other than in occasional, brief spurts. Fans may have hoped Jackson would be a player who could attack the rim off the dribble, but that has not been in evidence much either.

Hopefully, this is rock bottom for Elmarko Jackson and the Jayhawk can turn a corner

Things started off excitingly enough, as Jackson scored 17 points and dished out 14 assists, with just two turnovers in the first two games of the season, against subpar competition. In the subsequent 13 games, he's scored just 64 points, with 29 assists, and 24 turnovers.

Still, against Wichita State, he looked as if he might be turning the proverbial corner. He scored his career high 12 points on 5-10 shooting, including hitting two of his three attempts behind the arc. Unfortunately, he was 0-4 against TCU, then followed that up with the empty stat line against UCF.

Freshmen are said to hit a wall sometime in their rookie year. Hopefully, this is the case for Jackson, and he can build from here. The Jayhawks disparately need some offensive production from that fifth starter's spot. Right now, most of the scoring is coming from Hunter Dickinson, Kevin McCullar Jr., and K.J. Adams Jr.

Two games into Big 12 conference play, and it is obvious opponents are going to spend a lot of energy harassing Dickinson in the post. Right now, defenses don't need to track Jackson or Harris much because neither is being aggressive and both need to be to create some space for their big man.

Jackson needs to ramp up his aggressiveness and take better care of the basketball as well. While he isn't the worst on the team with his turnovers, many of his seem to be sloppy passing and questionable ball handling. Both can be corrected.

There is still a lot of season left for Jackson to find his footing and be a strong, positive contributor on both ends of the court for the Jayhawks. Bill Self and his staff have a strong history of being patient with young, talented players, and turning them into stars. We've seen it over and over with the likes of Frank Mason, Devonte' Graham, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, and Jalen Wilson.

The KU coaching staff will need to work some of their magic to kept Jackson's confidence up and to help him over the hump to the point where is helping this team. The season's final outcome may depend on it.