Vance Jackson: Junior Primer

As a player, one of the best things to be in the grassroots universe is a tall shooter. Those guys never lack for scholarship offers, and their value to college programs plays out over and over again.

How he got here

For Vance Jackson, interest always appeared inevitable. Standing 6-7 and possessing a jump shot on a par with far shorter players, Jackson’s game began to blossom in 2013. That summer, his flashes of excellence drew offers from Arizona, Washington and Connecticut. Clearly, he’d made his name.

He proceeded into his sophomore season as one of the more ballyhooed Western prospects from the 2016 class.

Jackson’s hot spots include the corners, wings and top of the key

He showcased his perimeter shooting ability at the Chicago Classic, where he helped lead Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco to a resounding victory over Jahlil Okafor and Chicago’s Whitney Young.

In 2014, Jackson toured with Belmont Shore at key spring and summer events. He enjoyed multiple huge outings, knocking in 33 points at the Fab 48 as his club fell gamely to the powerful N.J. Playaz. Though Jackson’s game frequently slots into a narrower category than most players, he truly excels at what he does best — bury long jump shots.

His junior season has been highly impressive thus far. As our West Coast specialist Josh Gershon notes, Jackson has improved his body this year and become more mobile and diversified. Not that he lacked for attention previously, but in the past month he has said that California, Arizona, Connecticut and USC are his most ardent suitors.

To 2015. …

Jackson earned his No. 48 national ranking on the basis of his jump shot. He buries long bombs repeatedly and poses a constant threat to defenses. His stroke isn’t the quickest but is nearly flawless in form. We list him as a wing, but he’s certainly tall enough to be the four-man — or at least the second-tallest guy for his team — should the need arise.

He’ll create matchup problems either way. Jackson certainly prefers to face the basket from range, but he’s solidly built and already possesses a nice turnaround jumper as well. With his recent additions to strength and quickness, he’ll become all the more effective from the middle and close-range areas.

That said, he’s unlikely ever to score high marks for his athleticism. He’s plenty mobile, but Jackson doesn’t possess explosive leaping ability nor is he particularly gifted on a lateral basis. For that reason he may need to be a four against certain opponents, rather than a wing, and especially on defense.

Thinking long-term, professional scouts will want to observe him being more physical and able to get his shot against more persistent defense. If he were 6-10 that concern would be less daunting, but at 6-7 he needs to incorporate more action off the dribble and prove he can bury an unclean look. Thus, Gershon’s reviews from this season regarding his quickness sound highly encouraging.

For college, Jackson projects as a plug-and-play shooter. Everyone wants them and needs them, and frankly even if he doesn’t create for himself often, he’ll fill a critical need for whatever — likely Pac-12? — program he chooses. The balance issue looms as a more pressing factor when evaluating him for the professional ranks, but of course he has up to five and a half years to mold himself into a complete performer.

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