Justin Jackson: Senior Refresher

Playing in a home school league, the temptation exists to dismiss statistical performance. After all, who can speak for the competition level?

But there's something different about the season Justin Jackson has pieced together during his senior campaign.

For one thing, he has played at several events that brought together elite opponents. He went for 29 points and nine rebounds against Myles Turner and Euless (Texas) Trinity in a showcase contest, and performed impressively against other highly touted foes as well.

The High School OT Invitational proved to be one of his best events. Jackson topped the 30-point mark in all three games there and scored 42 in an epic battle versus loaded Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian. His team didn't always prevail, but Jackson certainly reinforced the notion that he's among the country's best seniors.

His next step will be state and national home school tournaments, followed by a trip to the McDonald's All-American Game. There, we'll get another close look at how he performs both with and against elite competition.

Jackson will suit up for Roy Williams and North Carolina next all. One piece of a heralded three-man class, he's arguably the most ready to contribute out of the gate. His mid-range game remains as potent as ever, and this season Jackson has been a more willing (if inconsistent) three-point shooter.

Strength looms as the primary hurdle he must overcome for college. Jackson is a very thin wing player who does compensate to an extent thanks to intelligence, height and long arms, but he still gets pushed around inside and may not translate as much of a rebounder initially. He also must add whatever strength he can to maintain dribble containment defensively against stronger opponents.

On the upside, he plays such an unorthodox, darting, quick-release style that his production may not taper off as much as one might assume. He's obviously unlikely to take 20-plus shots per contest as he does now, but he should be able to establish an offensive niche that will lead to meaningful playing time and ample scoring opportunities.

If he's going to challenge those in the top five and others for best freshman honors next year, he likely will need to improve his three-point shooting accuracy along with gaining 10-15 pounds. But whether he gets there immediately or later, Jackson should become an impact player in Chapel Hill.


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