Jackson's Progression

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – It's time to change the narrative for Justin Jackson.

Since emerging on the national scene as a freshman, his reputation was that of a one-dimensional shooter.

His play this week at the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam has proven otherwise. Jackson said he's learned to be a more valuable player by not always settling for jump shots.

"I've worked hard on making moves off the dribble or just getting it and going," Jackson said. "When my shot sometimes isn't really working, I have to do something else to score, like getting to the basket."

Houston Hoops head coach Tim Schumacher said he's pleased with Jackson's progression from shooter to more complete player.

"He's really developed all of his game, as far as gaining strength, being a better rebounder and better defender," Schumacher said. "He's very smart and always in the right spot… always on balance and he plays great position defense. That allows him to be a good defender."

In front of UNC head coach Roy Williams on Saturday against the CP3 All-Stars, Jackson made three plays Schumacher called "winning plays."

After a missed jump shot, Jackson outran three CP3 players and maintained possession for his team before kicking it out to a teammate for an open 3-pointer. Later in the second half, he outhustled two CP3 players for a ball going out of bounds and controlled possession for his team, again leading to an open 3-pointer. Finally, with the game tied, he drove to the basket and hit a short runner that sealed the win for Houston Hoops.

"The strengths of Justin Jackson's game are his IQ and his ability to hit mid-range jumpers, runners and floaters," said Schumacher. "People labeled him as a shooter, but those are the No. 1 strengths of his game."

He's also become a more active rebounder and more effective defender, as evidenced by the seven boards and four steals recorded against CP3.

Showcasing a more diverse overall game has made Jackson an even more coveted prospect. He holds offers from Baylor, Georgetown, Memphis, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington. He's also receiving heavy interest from North Carolina.

"I'm still wide open," he said. "Any school that's recruiting me, I'm interested in them. Right now I really don't have a list, but I'll probably start narrowing it down sometime next year and maybe make a decision before the start of my senior year."

Jackson stays in regular contact with UNC assistant coach Steve Robinson. The two last spoke just before the Peach Jam. In those conversations, Robinson asked the 6-7, 175-pound wing for patience.

"He told me they'd be watching me and that they take their offering (of scholarships) a little slower," Jackson explained. "He said to just hang with them and sooner or later, if the time comes, it'll come. They're still definitely recruiting me hard though."

Jackson visited Chapel Hill in 2011 for the regular-season finale win over Duke. He said he likes UNC's campus and fans, but more importantly, its coaches.

"I like the Carolina coaching staff," he said. "I like Coach Robinson -- he's been recruiting me for a while now. Obviously, it's a great program and Coach Williams is one of the best coaches to ever coach."

Should Jackson end up at Carolina, Schumacher feels the relationship would be a good match.

"North Carolina's system and the way it goes about its business every day – he would fit right in with those guys because of his demeanor, his mindset and his mentality," he said. "I think he's a great fit for them."

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