Of all the Terps’ targets and offerees in attendance for the ballyhooed Maryland-Georgetown bout Nov. 17, junior combo forward Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.) garnered the most attention. After all, the 6-foot-9, 215-pound four-star, who grew up in Silver Spring, Md., was the only out-of-state attendee , flying in just for the occasion. The son of the former Georgetown and NBA standout by the same name, Jackson Jr. took the opportunity to see two of his foremost suitors in action.
“I have offers from both schools, but I was there for Maryland,” Jackson insisted. “This was solely about Maryland, and I was concentrating on them because I hadn’t been there before. So I was focused on their playing style and how they went about their business. And it was good to see them gelling, and it was good to see them come out with the win. I’m happy they won. The moves Coach [Mark] Turgeon made, bringing in a guy like Rasheed Sulaimon, it paid off.
“I was really impressed with the team and what I saw at Maryland. They’re going to be really, really good this year. The spotlight is on them, and I was very impressed. I’ll be back and will be paying attention to how they do.”
Jackson, along with Jackson Sr., arrived just in time for the 9:15 p.m. tipoff. The recruit said he didn’t have time to see his UMD recruiter, Cliff Warren, or head coach Mark Turgeon beforehand, but went to the Maryland locker room afterwards. Then the Park Tudor product sat down with the staff for an extended chat the next morning.
“It was really cool to go down to the locker room and see all the players and coaches, and just see how they interacted,” Jackson said. “I met Sulaimon specifically, and he was a really cool dude. I was so impressed with how he played. Just his experiences from Duke and how he led the younger players [Nov. 17], helping them get back into the game -- I feel like he’s the reason Maryland won.
“And he was actually texting me some too. He was telling me I needed to come to Maryland and continue the tradition. So that’s something that stayed with me and something I’ll be thinking about.”
The Sulaimon meeting certainly resonated, but Jackson had similar comments for the Maryland coaches. He readily took to Turgeon, who Jackson met for the first time in late September when the headman trekked out to Park Tudor to offer the 6-9 forward, and Warren as well.
“Coach Turgeon and Coach Warren are both great; they’re both really great to talk to and are great recruiters,” Jackson said. “I really enjoyed seeing Coach Turgeon in action and then talking to him after the game. They run a great system there, and I believe I’d fit really well into their up-tempo style.
“But [Turgeon] and Coach Warren just want me to keep working, keep improving and keep developing into an all-around basketball player. And they definitely want me to come back and see more of the campus, which I’m definitely going to do. I saw enough at Maryland to know I definitely want to come back.”
Jackson had actually been in College Park during his younger years. He even attended a couple Maryland games before he and his family left Silver Spring when Jackson was 12 years old.
But he didn’t recall the arena being as live as it was Nov. 17.
“I will say the atmosphere inside Xfinity Center was amazing; I loved that,” Jackson said. “The student section, I don’t even think you can call it a ‘section,’ because it extends around the entire arena. But the students know exactly what to chant and what to say to get under [opponents’] skin; it’s pretty cool. They support their Terrapins really hard and provide a great atmosphere.
“The game was the best part of the visit, just seeing how Maryland overcame adversity. But then after the game it was really cool, because a lot of the fans stayed to watch Coach Turgeon get interviewed by Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter. I was actually caught on camera, and that was pretty awesome. Just seeing yourself on SportCenter, and seeing a guy like Van Pelt, who I know is a Maryland guy, that was so, so cool.”
Van Pelt wasn’t the only UMD alum Jackson noted. A basketball historian thanks to knowledge garnered from his father, Jackson Jr. recognized Joe Smith, Greivis Vasquez and several other Maryland greats who returned for the renewed rivalry match.
“I thought it was really awesome that all these alumni came back for the game,” Jackson said. “It really shows what kind of history Maryland has and how much they love their basketball program there. It’s a great tradition; it’s amazing.”
The next morning, Jackson and his father toured part of College Park, saw the player dorms and checked out the rest of the athletic facilities. The two then caught an early-afternoon flight so Jackson Jr. could make it back to Park Tudor in time for basketball practice.
“The campus was huge; it was great. Everything is in one place and very convenient,” Jackson said. “I loved the dorms and the facilities too. Everything there is top notch.”
Evidently Jackson’s father enjoyed himself too. Although Jackson Sr. is a Georgetown alum, Jackson Jr. said his dad “loved Turgeon” and “loved Maryland.”
“My dad thought Maryland was great,” Jackson Jr. said. “He really enjoyed the game even though he’s a Georgetown guy (laughs). He loved the atmosphere, and I think the history of the game was really cool for him since he was apart of it.”
Although Jackson was effusive in his Terps’ praise, he mentioned he had no clear leaders at this point. In addition to UMD and Georgetown, Jackson holds offers from Butler, Purdue, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Xavier and Indiana. Michigan, Stanford and several bluebloods are also intrigued by Jackson’s potential.
“Right now I can’t put one school over another,” said Jackson, who has now visited College Park, Georgetown, Indiana, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State (for Midnight Madness), Butler, Purdue, Xavier and Vandy. “I’m going to keep doing my thing, keep exploring and keep my options open. There’s a long way to go.”
Jackson Jr. burst onto the scene this summer while suiting up for Indiana Elite on the Adidas circuit. He previously told TerrapinTimes his improved shot and all-around court savvy caught recruiters’ eyes.
“My strength is how versatile I am. I can play multiple positions, I’m getting my shot off quicker, and I can score from 3; I can score from 15 feet; and I can throw up hooks in the lane. And defense has always been a big part of my game,” Jackson said before. “But I have to get my handles better, be able to create off a screen, and get a shot up with a hand in my face. Getting a contested shot up, and making it, is something I want to get better at, because at the next level you’re going to face that all the time -- you have to convert.”