Heels Keeping Tabs on Jackson

HAMPTON, Va. – Justin Jackson arrived on the EYBL circuit as a freshman in 2011, learning the ropes while contributing as a reserve.

Now, a year older, stronger and smarter, Jackson is no longer the future of the Houston Hoops program. He is its "now," with a starting spot and an integral role.

"Coming into this year, I knew I had to get on the court and assert myself more," the 6-foot-7, 175-pound wing said. "Last year I was playing behind some great guys and I sometimes deferred to them. This year I wanted to come out and play as hard as I can, and assert myself."

To that end, Jackson has started a strict workout regimen, designed to improve his bulk, strength and stamina.

"I've been really trying to get stronger so that I can play through contact," he said. "I've started lifting weight this year. Nothing really heavy, but that's what I need to work on and that's where I' m starting."

Jackson is known for the quick-release on his jump shot – with three-point range – and his one-handed runner, that gives him a unique ability to finish from the mid-range. Both of those skills were on display during Houston's games this weekend.

Through the first three games at this weekend's Hampton stop on the EYBL circuit, Jackson is averaging 12 points and four rebounds, while shooting 6-of-12 on three-point field goals.

It's that shooting ability and skill that has helped Jackson earn scholarship offers from Ohio State, Washington, Georgetown, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

He has also been receiving interest from North Carolina for more than a year. Jackson took a trip to Chapel Hill in March 2011 and watched the Tar Heels beat Duke in the Smith Center.

"I like UNC," Jackson said. "Obviously they are a good basketball program. Their academics are great and their tradition is really good."

While he hasn't made a return trip to Carolina yet, he'd like to.

"We're (my family) still trying to figure out a time to go visit," he said. "It's so busy with tournaments and camps, we haven't really found a date yet, but we'll try to find one."

In the meantime, he is maintaining regular conversations with the Carolina coaching staff.

"I try to make phone calls probably every week, if not every other two weeks to build relationships," he said. "I talk to (UNC assistant coach) Coach (Steve) Robinson a lot. We've been talking about, basically, how they're still really interested in me. They said they're looking for a shooter in my class."

Jackson said his plan is to delve more into recruiting over the summer and into his junior year, before verbally committing some time prior to the start of his senior season (August 2013).

Justin Jackson Profile

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