The dream that helped get him through some turbulent times early in his life, that became a legitimate quest during his playing days at Mishawaka (Ind.) Marian High School, and then inevitable while helping lead Notre Dame to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, is about to become reality.
Tonight, Thursday, June 23, Demetrius Jackson looks to become the fourth Notre Dame player during the 16-year Mike Brey era to be drafted in the first round when the 2016 NBA draft is conducted in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Should Jackson be tabbed in the first round, he would join Jerian Grant (No. 19 overall in 2015), Ryan Humphrey (No. 19 in 2002) and Troy Murphy (No. 14 in 2001) as first-rounders under Brey, which would raise Notre Dame’s all-time total to 19.
Jackson’s draft projections have been in flux since his early inclusion among the 14 lottery picks. While most speculation has Jackson remaining in the first round, some mock drafts have him sliding into the second round.
Here are the strongest projected possibilities offered during the lead-up to Thursday’s draft:
BEST CASE: NO. 15 DENVER/NO. 17 MEMPHIS
Jackson’s inclusion among the projected lottery picks has long passed, and even a selection before No. 20 seems to have faded considerably.
The Nuggets are looking for backcourt help, but it’s more likely to be a shooting guard than a point guard. Several mock drafts have 6-foot-7 Turkish import Furkan Efes landing in Denver at No. 15.
The Grizzlies’ need at point guard is well-documented with Mike Conley – who may or may not return in 2016-17 -- a current free agent. Jackson is a possibility in the No. 17 spot, but probably not if 6-foot-3 point guard Wade Baldwin (Vanderbilt) or 6-foot-6 shooting guard Malachi Richardson (Syracuse) are available. The Grizzlies also could tab 6-foot-10 power forward Deyonta Davis (Michigan State).
No. 15 Denver Odds: 35-1
No. 17 Memphis Odds: 22-1
CONSENSUS RANGE: No. 20 INDIANA—NO. 26 PHILADELPHIA
It remains to be seen how the Pacers’ trade of George Hill to Utah with Jeff Teague coming to Indiana will impact their decision-making at the point guard position with the No. 20 pick.
Much like with the Nos. 15 and 17 selections, a larger guard/point guard such as Baldwin, Richardson or 6-foot-5 Dejounte Murray (Washington) appears to be the favored route for Indiana over Jackson.
A much more likely landing spot would be in Philadelphia where, after the 76ers tab 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick, they choose again at Nos. 24 and 26. All the bigger point guards, including their most coveted choice, Kris Dunn (Providence), who will go early, will be gone by the 24th pick.
It would be an upset if the 76ers did not take a guard (shooting or point) with one of those two picks, and at this stage of the draft, Jackson could very well be the most logical choice for Philadelphia.
There has been recent talk tying Jackson to the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 25. That would mean a first-round point guard pick going to a team with Chris Paul running the show. Not only would that be a fairly undesirable selection for Jackson in terms of playing time, it would mean a probable pass by the Clippers on 6-foot-6 St. Joseph’s small forward DeAndre Bembry, which is unlikely.
No. 20 Indiana Odds: 15-1
No. 24/26 Philadelphia Odds: 7-1
No. 25 L.A. Clippers Odds: 17-1
SLIPPING: NO. 29 SAN ANTONIO
This is a team that’s been tied to Jackson on occasion, but the Spurs would appear to be more likely to look toward Europe to fill this spot, and probably with a big man, such as Ante Zizic, a seven-footer from Croatia.
The Spurs could use some help at the point, namely, an on-ball defender against the quicker point guards in the league. Jackson certainly would fit that bill. Bonus: He’s be walking into a winning situation team-wise.
No. 29 San Antonio Odds: 25-1
SLIPPED: 2ND ROUND – LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS/MILWAUKEE
If the Clippers’ interest is piqued by Jackson late in the first round, the third pick of the second round (No. 33 overall) probably would be too good for them to pass up. He wouldn’t get past the Clippers, particularly if they filled their small forward needs at No. 25.
The Bucks almost undoubtedly will go big with the No. 10 overall pick, so by the time they come to their second-round picks – Nos. 36 and 38 overall and Nos. 6 and 8 of the second round – Jackson will be heading to Milwaukee is he slides this far.
No. 33 Los Angeles Clippers Odds: 5-1 (if he slides to the second round)
No. 36/38 Milwaukee Odds: 3-1 (if he slides to the second round)