Welcome to Keeping It Heel’s incoming freshman preview series! Before the McDonalds All-American game and the next season of Carolina basketball, we will preview all three of the Tar Heels recruits for next season. Today, we start with Justin Jackson.
Hometown: Tomball, Texas
High School: Homeschool Christian Youth Association
High School Stats: 29.4 points, 9.7 rebounds per game
ESPN Rating: 96 (Five Stars)
National Rank: 8th in ESPN 100
Position: Small Forward
Jackson is a strong all-around prospect at the small forward or shooting guard positions. Jackson can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket very well, and has a nice mid-range floater. He can score in a multitude of ways, including off basket cuts and finishing around the basket. He has also dominated high school ball, averaging nearly 30 points a game at Homeschool Christian Youth Academy.
Most importantly, and the strength that will make Carolina fans the most excited, is the fact that Jackson can really shoot the basketball from anywhere on the court. One of his biggest strengths is midrange and three point shooting, as he shot 38% from three point land in high school. Expect Jackson to be able to come in next season and instantly add shooting to UNC’s backcourt.
Jackson’s strength is the biggest cause for concern at this point. At 175 pounds, Jackson needs to add some more weight before he will be able to bang with 22 or 23 year old seniors in college. Also, he isn’t as strong of a defender as J.P. Tokoto was coming into Chapel Hill, and I’m worried about his ability to guard bigger, stronger guards on the wing in the ACC.
Projections for UNC
UNC had problems with depth all season on the wing, and at the very least, Jackson will add some scoring punch for the Tar Heels off the bench. Next season, I don’t expect Jackson to crack the starting lineup right away, but if his jump shot is strong enough, he could shoot his way into the starting lineup as the season goes along. His ceiling is leading the Tar Heels to ACC Championships as a Junior or Senior as he develops and gets stronger.
The first player that comes to mind that is similar to Jackson would be Reggie Bullock. Bullock was 6-6, 190 coming into Carolina, and was similarly rated to Jackson. Both can shoot and score the basketball in lots of ways, and both were well sized for their positions on the wing. When its all said and done, Bullock will probably be a better shooter at Carolina, but Jackson has the ability to be just as good a player for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels got a great young player in Justin Jackson. He should come into Carolina next fall ready to contribute with his shooting, and after adding some strength and defensive skills, will be a really good player for the Tar Heels.