Teammate and scouts weigh in on Jaren Jackson's big offseason

Teammate and scouts weigh in on Jaren Jackson's big offseason which now includes a gold medal for Team USA in this weekend's FIBA U17 World Championships in Spain.

Indianapolis rising senior Jaren Jackson Jr. has had quite the  offseason.

Jackson wrote another chapter this past weekend in helping lead Team USA to a FIBA U17 World Championship. In the final Sunday night in Zaragoza, Spain, Team USA ran away with a 96-56 win over Turkey.

Still just 16 years old, Jackson was one of the youngest players on the team. He came off the bench in Spain, averaging 4.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in the seven games. Along with the No. 3 overall player in 2017, Wendell Carter of Atlanta, Jackson led the team in blocked shots, swatting away seven during the tournament.

Jackson beat out a number of top players across the country for the team via his outstanding play during the team trials last month in Colorado Springs.

Evan Daniels is Director of Basketball Recruiting and was on hand for the trials.

"Jackson certainly had some bright moments at the u17 trials and in Spain once he made the team," Daniels said. "For that team he impacted things around the goal with his length on defense. He also showed he could finish off plays around the basket."

With players like Carter and high scoring guard Collin Sexton and Gary Trent Jr. on the squad, Jackson took on an altered role.

"What was different with how he played with the USA team compared to how he has played all spring was he didn't step out and take jump shots, nor was he used as a post scorer," Daniels said. "In the EYBL, Jackson is shooting over 40-percent from three, with USA he only attempted one three the entire event. They utilized him for length, mobility and athleticism.

"Once Jackson gets back with his AAU I think he'll be able to showcase his scoring arsenal, both on the block, as well as away from the goal, much like he has the entire spring."

In the EYBL circuit he was among the circuit's leading scorers this spring, averaging 17.1 points and shooting 44 percent from behind the 3-point line. He plays with the Spiece Indy Heat alongside another Big Ten post target, 6-foot-8, 235-pound Xavier Tillman of Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

"Jaren is a beast," Tillman tells

"He's a 6-foot-10 guy with good footwork, tough, can shoot the 3-ball. Can pass it, can handle it. A great defender who can block shots and get back on defense."

"Plus he's a good guy and a good teammate."

The Spiece Indy Heat qualified for the final 24 teams that compete in the "Peach Jam" or Nike EYBL Finals this week in North Augusta, South Carolina. The Indy Heat open play there 8:30 p.m. ET on tonight.

"The whole team got confident because we jelled together as the EYBL sessions continued," Tillman said about making the Peach Jam. "We became more of a family."

Ranked No. 59 nationally coming into the spring, Jackson was bumped up to No. 22 in the latest Scout rankings for the Class of 2017. national recruiting expert Brian Snow is a part of the team responsible for those rankings. He's also based in Indianapolis.

"Jaren is a kid who quite honestly didn't have a great high school season," Snow said this week. "At times he just blended in at Park Tudor, and just never really seemed to get going. However ever since April began, Jaren has been a different kid. He has been assertive, more confident, and has looked to dominate on the court. Quite simply he is becoming the player we all thought he could be a year ago, and it has been impressive to watch." Top Stories