Notre Dame freshmen: early look

The Fighting Irish hope to challenge for the ACC title this season, and their hopes lie in part on the back of one impressive freshman.

College basketball poses a stern challenge to nearly all freshmen as they transition from high school play, and at no position is that more true than at point guard.

As such, prep All-American floor general Demetrius Jackson figured to need more time than fans might have hoped to impress himself onto games. But although he hasn't yet started a game for Mike Brey's program, Jackson is making progress.

He's playing 17 minutes per contest behind experienced guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, and during his time he's scoring seven points per game along with a solid 2-1 assist-turnover ratio. He's making the most of his shooting attempts, scoring at over a 50 percent clip and hitting nearly half of his threes. And that doesn't include his defense, which with experience should enable him to shine on both ends of the court.

Jackson proved an interesting study at the various postseason practices last spring. He didn't exhibit physical dominance the way that more physical guards such as Wayne Selden (Kansas) did, but he obviously boasted elite quickness both as a penetrator and laterally.

More than most programs, Notre Dame features a steady stream of upperclassmen who tend to direct their teams. For that reason it's less alarming when touted Irish freshmen play less than their peers, who frequently have stepped into situations that are more open in terms of immediate starting berths.

To wit, both V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia arrived with top-100 credentials, but neither has played a big role thus far. And the other signee, two star power forward Austin Torres, appears he will redshirt the 2013-14 campaign.

In an ideal world, Jackson would begin to command more playing time. Atkins and Grant are averaging roughly 35 minutes per game, huge numbers given the relatively lackluster competition the Irish haved faced through the early season. If he can move the needle toward the 22-25 minutes range, that should help the team's scoring leaders remain fresh into March.

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