The first - and most important - thing you need to know about Jonathan Jackson is that he isn't Justin Jackson.
Yes, he's the younger brother of the reigning ACC Player of the Year and UNC's single-season leader in three-pointers made. Yes, if you look at Jonathan Jackson's facial expressions, hair, shooting form and demeanor you might think you're seeing Justin Jackson as a high school freshman.
But Jonathan Jackson is his own person, with his own style of play on the court. He's a little more reserved, but also a little more on edge. At 6-4, he's not as tall - yet - but already stronger than his older brother at the same age.
And he's one of two freshmen Roy Williams watched personally during the April evaluation periods.
"I didn't know that he was going to come and see me this early," Jonathan Jackson told Inside Carolina. "I thought it was going to be one of the assistants, so it was a bit surprising when he walked in."
Williams was joined by assistant Steve Robinson, who served as lead recruiter for Justin Jackson. They watched Jonathan Jackson's MoKan (Missouri-Kansas) 16U EYBL team, which has already qualified for the Peach Jam in July.
"Coach (Williams) told us he wanted to be involved in Jonathan's recruiting process," explained Lloyd Jackson, Jonathan's father. "They're serious about him. If he was Justin's brother and can't play, I doubt they'd be recruiting him. Coach Williams has seen him play, he knows his game and he feels it fits his system."
"He passes what Coach (Williams) calls the 'character test' because he knows our family," Lloyd Jackson continued. "Then he passes the playing test because Coach (Williams) has had a chance to watch him up close and personal during (summer) camp. During Justin's senior year of high school, Coach (Williams) flew to Springfield, Mo. to watch him play. We made sure that'd be the only time Jonathan would play on Justin's team, despite being so young. As soon as Jonathan came into the game, he knocked down a couple threes."
In his mind, Lloyd Jackson always knew his youngest son had a chance to be special. But, it wasn't until this past year that Jonathan confirmed that notion.
"Since he was young, Jonathan has lived in the gym while watching his brother," Lloyd Jackson said. "I think he learned and picked up a lot of things faster than Justin. It was when he started to quickly apply it that we realized he has a chance. One thing I've always said is that the stage he's at now, he's really special. That's the thing he's learning now is understanding what it really takes to work and be the best he can be. It's been awesome for him to watch his brother grow over the years. It's also pretty amazing for us to watch the light bulb come on for Jonathan. But, if he decides to coast because he's talented now, he'll be a nice freshman who could've been really special, and that's not something we will allow."
Jonathan has been primarily playing the '2' for his high school - he is home schooled and played this past season with Kansas City's Metro Academy - and AAU teams. He and his father consider his shooting and basketball IQ to be advanced beyond his years.
"He can stroke the ball," said Lloyd Jackson. "He loves watching the game, watching players and how things work in college basketball and the NBA. He studies the game in a different way than Justin. Justin was kind of our guinea pig. He learned from (mom) Sharon (Jackson) and me. Jonathan learned from us, and the sum of all the experiences and the environment around Justin. I think sometimes that's good and sometimes that's not good."
Since moving to Kansas a few years back, Jonathan has received attention from a lot of the schools in the Midwest, including Kansas and Kansas State. As a freshman, he took an unofficial visit to Phog Allen Fieldhouse for a Jayhawks game. He's also already receiving interest from Texas A&M, Duke, UCF and UNC. The Jacksons have learned a good amount about recruiting and college basketball from Justin's experience, and know what does and doesn't work for them.
"We just want Jonathan to have a chance to be as good as he can be," said Lloyd Jackson. "I want this to be Jonathan's own experience, because it's going to be different from Justin's. Yet, we want to use some of the things we encountered, good or bad, during Justin's recruitment to help Jonathan through the process."
"I want him to experience colleges wanting to recruit him," Lloyd Jackson explained. "At the same time, one thing we did really well with Justin, when we found out where he wanted to go - and I'll tell Jonathan the same thing - there's no attraction in having to deal with 20 or 30 coaches all over the place. Once you find out where you want to go, go. Now, if you don't know, don't rush the process. Watching some of the struggles Justin had, I think that's good for Jonathan from the standpoint of he will truly understand what it takes to really work hard and never give up. You have to stay the course, although it may not look promising at the moment, keep doing what you're doing and it'll work out."
Though he's nowhere close to a college decision, Jonathan admitted he has fond feelings for North Carolina.
"I'll try to go in with an even-keeled mindset to give everyone an equal chance," Jonathan said. "They're one of the top schools in the country and I'm blessed to be recruited by them. I definitely know more about them, so it gives them an advantage a little bit."
Added Lloyd Jackson: "He has seen Justin go through the rough times and there are things he doesn't like at Carolina, but watching his brother's success and watching his brother stay the course and succeed, there are things he does like about Carolina. There's definitely a liking and fondness there for sure."