2014 Intro: Justin Jackson

HAMPTON, Va. – J'Mycheal Reese, L.J. Rose and Rasheed Sulaimon are the Houston Hoops squad's present. Justin Jackson? He's the future.

Jackson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Spring, Texas, is the only Class of 2014 player on the usually-loaded Houston 17-and-under roster.

According to his coach, Byron Gibson, Jackson's play during his high school season made the move a necessity.

"These other guys are going to be leaving next year," explained Gibson. "We're going to need some guys with experience that can play. He can change a game with his offense – I've got to find minutes for him."

Less than three weeks after being named MVP of the National Christian HomeSchool Championships, receiving the Maravich Award for best homeschool player in the country and being selected as a First Team homeschool All-American, Jackson was coming off the bench for Houston Hoops. A position that while unfamiliar, he says, he's comfortable with.

"Playing with the 17-and-under teams is a different speed," Jackson said. "I'm trying to just fit in and do the best I can."

Added Gibson: "He's a humble young man and I respect him a lot. He knew the situation coming in and just wanted to learn and get better."

Jackson plays on the wing and – because of a lack of post depth – sometimes has to venture into the paint with other teams' bigs. At times his wiry frame can allow him to be bullied around by older, stronger players. However, on the offensive end, he can give opposing teams fits.

"He's got the three-ball, he can shoot floaters, he's just a smooth guy that knows how to get buckets," said Gibson. "He's just a natural scorer."

Those skills and Jackson's mature offensive game caught the attention of UNC assistant Steve Robinson and the Carolina coaching staff, eventually leading to Jackson visiting Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels' regular-season finale win over Duke last month.

"We were trying to get a visit for a while and that was the only free weekend and it just so happened to be the Duke game," Jackson said. "It was a great experience, the best thing I've ever been to.

"It's just so calm there (Chapel Hill). Carolina has a great tradition and just a great program."

Jackson won't enroll in college for another three years, but has already received scholarship offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas.

UNC hasn't offered Jackson a scholarship, but he says the Tar Heels – led by Robinson – are in the most frequent contact with him.

"I talk with Coach Robinson the most," he said. "We just talk about life and basketball, how my season is going, that kind of thing."

Justin Jackson Profile

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