Vegas: Jackson sliding toward top spot?

LAS VEGAS — Most scouts don't care as much about the successes or failures of individual travel teams, but every industry person attending the Vegas events lamented Dorian's Pride's departure from the field.

And the reason for that was obvious: Josh Jackson. The sophomore wing already boasted an immense reputation — he entered the Super 64 as a consensus top-five prospect — but took the next step in his development.

He opened the festivities in explosive fashion versus the Atlanta Celtics and never let relinquished the throttle. Jackson fits the mold of super-athletic, slashing wing, but he proved here to be much more.

But you still begin with the explosiveness. Jackson is extremely quick off the bounce and a high-flyer with superb body control. He bursts into top speed in the open court and has that rare sixth gear, yet he's still able to slow down instantly and loft in the kind of tear-drop shots that only the pros convert.

He's capable of finishing above the rim while driving baseline and can alter his trajectory when confronted by big men. Again, that's the slasher everyone expected to see.

But Jackson's scoring dominance originated from a place entirely unrelated to natural physicality. His skill level includes a smooth and sometimes-devastating jump shot with easy range to the three-point stripe. He also comfortably knocks them down on the move in either direction, demonstrating a preference and style that suggests he may become an elite mid-range scorer down the road.

Meanwhile, his ball-handling proved to be better than advertised. He ultimately may slot as a guard rather than a wing forward, and clearly he possesses the quickness and size to defend either position in college.

He also competes in a hard-charging manner. He's a very confident player and will allow that attitude to emanate to opponents — not that he's a brash smack-talker, only that he exudes superiority — but he doesn't allow that to pollute his effort. He defends and scraps for rebounds the way he should.

Though scoring was his mission in Vegas, Jackson also is a talented passer and no doubt will cultivate that aspect of his game as he develops. He does yet carry the label of volume scorer, but he hasn't need to fire up that many shots.

There's no perfect player, of course, and Jackson will need to get stronger and improve his decision-making, which should come with maturity.

So the next question is this: How high does he go when we release our 2016 rankings?

It's patently unfair to drop a player based on an injury from which he's expected to recover fully, and obviously I'm referring to widely perceived No. 1 Harry Giles. But even Giles, as outstanding as he was during the spring prior to damaging his knee, was no better than Jackson here.

It's very early and not significant in terms of either's career, but for our purposes that conversation will continue to unfurl over the next couple years.

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