Jackson Makes Splash At Late Night

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Justin Jackson’s college career began the same way his high school career ended.

Jackson led all scorers with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting during UNC’s annual scrimmage at “Late Night with Roy” on Friday – six months after leading all scorers with 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting at the McDonald’s All-American Game.

The 6-8 freshman from Spring, Texas showcased his entire scoring repertoire.

He hit a jump shot off the dribble. He moved without the ball and scored on easy layups. He hit a three on an isolation play from the right wing. He converted on his patented one-handed floater. He even made time to pull down six rebounds.

It was a new sight for many in the Smith Center crowd, but something Jackson consistently did playing for Houston Hoops on the AAU circuit and with his Homeschool Christian Youth Association high school team.

The Tar Heel players have grown to expect this type of play from Jackson during pickup games and the team’s practices over the summer.

“He’s a great rebounder, he knows how to put the ball in the hole,” sophomore Kennedy Meeks said.

“Just coming out there and seeing Justin stepping up like that when we were down, that’s something you like to see in a teammate,” sophomore Isaiah Hicks said.

Jackson’s harshest critic – and biggest fan – traveled 1,200 miles to watch his introduction to Carolina basketball.

“I was impressed and it’s hard for him to impress me as my son,” Jackson’s father, Lloyd said. “He looks comfortable on the floor like he has played at this level. He seems very confident.”

Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, Jackson’s fellow freshmen roommates, were solid in their first live scrimmage in the Smith Center. Pinson had four points and three assists. Berry scored five points and dished out an assist.

The Tar Heels’ official first practice is Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.

Expect Jackson to perform at practice the same way he did at Late Night. And with his high school team. And with his AAU team. And at the McDonald’s All-American game. Efficient. Savvy. Lethal.

“He’s so versatile, he can go inside-out, he can play facing up and coming off the dribble,” senior Jackson Simmons said. “The more experience that he gets he’s going to be able to use that in league play and help us out in the long run.”

For a team that lacked offensive weapons a year ago, Jackson still projects as a vital addition to the arsenal.


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