Since the University of Kansas hired Bill Self prior to the 2003-04, the school has been known as both a basketball powerhouse and hotbed for future NBA stars. During Self's 12-year stint at Kansas, the school has won twelve Big 12 regular season titles and have made the Final Four twice which included an NCAA Tournament title win in 2008. That success had a lot to do with the incredible talent that Self has repeatedly been able to bring in since his hiring. Over the last 12 years, Kansas has been home to ten NBA lottery picks, which includes 2014 1st overall pick Andrew Wiggins.
Going into the upcoming 2016-17 season, Bill Self might have yet another potential 1st overall pick on his hands with 6'7 small forward Josh Jackson. The San Diego, California native, Jackson has been known as a top-notch recruit for most of his high school career, dating back to the 2013 U-16 Americas Championships, where he helped lead Team USA to a gold medal. That international success would continue in the 2014 U-17 World Championship and the 2015 U-19 World championship, as Jackson would work alongside fellow 2016 high school studs Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles to help lead Team USA to gold.
When he wasn't rocking USA on his chest, Jackson also stood as arguably the best high school player in the country. That status was solidified by Jackson continuing his dominating play with Prolific Prep, as he landed a spot on the USA Today's All-USA First Team squad. Alongside that, Jackson was named MVP of the McDonald's All-American game, where he put up 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists on 9-11 from the field.
Jackson's continued success has been due to three main factors: great basketball IQ, incredible athleticism, and solid size. Among that trio, Jackson's athleticism is the first thing that should catch your eye as he stands as a huge threat to make an unbelievable play whether he's working in transition or half-court. While he's great in transition, Jackson's actually more of a threat in the half-court. The 6'7 Jackson is an extremely difficult player to guard as his quick first-step allows him to work past most forwards while his wicked handles are effective against guards. Both Jackson's quick first step and ball-handling prowess are seen in the play below, as he does a swift behind-the-back dribble before putting up the floater.
That floater's actually an example of his smooth touch around the rim, as those floaters are a regular part of his offensive repertoire. Those floaters are an example of how comfortable he is around the basket as he uses a plethora of moves to score. Of course, Jackson's jaw-dropping dunks are the most appealing part of his work around the rim, as he's appeared in many BallisLife mixtapes during his high school career.
While his rim-rocking dunks excite the masses, perhaps the most appealing part of Jackson's overall game is his work as a facilitator. Using his 6'7 frame to see over the court, Jackson displays solid court vision whether he's working in transition or half-court. Through transition, Jackson does his best Lonzo Ball impersonation by through picture-perfect outlet passes. While in the half-court, Jackson does a lot of his damage as the pick-and-roll guard where he can throw dishes to the cutting big. Alongside that, Jackson can be productive as a drive-and-kick facilitator, as you can see from the play below.
Perhaps the weakest part of Jackson's offensive game is his work as a shooter. Maybe it's because he's more comfortable as an on-ball cutter or facilitator but perimeter shooting currently isn't a significant part of his offensive game. Perhaps that's due to Jackson's weird looking shooting stroke as the ball appears to be a little low when he's at the top of his release. That can be seen in the clip below, as Jackson's still able to hit the jumper even though there's that slight issue with his shooting stroke.
Despite that concern about his shooting, Jackson still stands as a fantastic player. Again, his terrific basketball IQ, athleticism and 6'7 frame should allow him to be a fantastic player that should be productive on both ends of the ball. Defensively, Jackson has ridiculous upside as he can use that frame and athleticism to potentially defend against multiple positions. He's a solid on-ball defender but a lot of his dominance comes as a help defender, as he does a great job of quickly getting to the on-ball cutter to make the key block.
Set to join Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks, Josh Jackson will join a stacked roster with National Championship aspirations. While Jackson and the Jayhawks will have their eyes set on giving Self his 2nd national title win, the young forward will also be competing against a stacked freshman with the hopes of being the 1st overall pick in next year's draft. And with all the amazing tools that he possess, there's a pretty good chance that Josh Jackson could make those dreams come true.