With the NBA Summer League now behind us, we’ve reached a relative dead period in the basketball season. While’s still outlets like The Basketball Tournament and the many FIBA Tournaments for folks to get their hoops fix, a lot of NBA and NCAA fans are left spending the summer waiting impatiently for their seasons to start.
For college basketball fans, that wait is spent dreaming of how their top recruits could help take them to the Final Four. The Duke Blue Devils are one of those squads that continuously have high hopes every single season. That’s rightfully so as the organization regularly combines one of the best coaches in basketball history (Mike Krzyzewski) with extremely talented rosters.
That won’t change this season, as Duke brings in an amazing recruiting class, that’s headlined by two potential #1 overall picks in Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum. Alongside that amazing duo, the Blue Devils will bring in fellow 5-star recruits Frank Jackson and Marques Bolden to create a fantastic freshman core that will play alongside All-American guard Grayson Allen to create an exciting starting-5.
Among those prospects, Frank Jackson might actually be a player that currently sits under the radar, especially when you compare him to Giles or Tatum. That’s partially due to two separate factors.
- Frank Jackson played high school hoops in Utah, which isn’t really a basketball hotbed.
- Unlike Giles and Tatum, Jackson never had the opportunity to play in various FIBA tournaments, which is a huge opportunity for young players to etch their names as top prospects.
Despite that, Frank Jackson was still able to solidify himself as an elite prospect with a fantastic career at Lone Peak High School. During his senior season, Jackson had several accolades: Utah Mr. Basketball, Utah Gatorade Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American Game MVP. In that game, Jackson impressed as he had 19 points on 7-11 from the field and 5-7 from beyond the arc.
Jackson’s fantastic McDonald’s All-American Game performance shouldn’t shock anyone that watched him at Lone Peak, as he was arguably the best scoring guard in the 2016 high school class. Standing 6’4 with a solid 6’7 wingspan, Jackson is a force to be reckoned with whenever he’s on the offensive end.
His main weapon of attack is his shooting stroke, as Jackson has unbelievable range that might even spread out to beyond the NBA 3-point line. Jackson definitely seems to know that, as he shows supreme confidence in that perimeter stroke where he shoots it whether he’s open or has a hand in his face. That confidence is also shown through his ability to both work off-the-dribble or through catch-and-shoot. The complete culmination of those traits are evident in the play below, as he hits a deep perimeter jumper with a hand right in his face.
Alongside that, Jackson stands as a fantastic on-ball cutter that combines quickness with solid handles. While he likely won’t break someone down with a wicked crossover, he does a nice job of utilizing a quick first step and a strong 208 pound frame to drive his way towards the paint. Once he moves into the paint, Jackson regularly utilizes a solid floater that he launches from a step ahead of the free-throw line. Although he’s not necessarily afraid of attacking the rim, Jackson seems more comfortable with his running floaters. That isn’t a bad thing as Jackson makes those shots more than he misses.
Although he loves putting up floaters in half-court sets, Jackson’s more than willing to show his sheer explosiveness in transition. Jackson looks like a future NBA Dunk Contest champ whenever he gets a head of steam in transition, as his terrific hops allow him to drop some of the biggest jaw-dropping slams that you’d see from a high schooler.
Despite being a score-first guard, Jackson definitely has some potential as a facilitator. Jackson’s an unselfish prospect as he’s more than willing to dish it out to an open teammate. Throughout his career, he’s continued to show an ability to make terrific and crisp passes, which is seen below.
Heading into Duke, Jackson will be part of a jam-packed team filled with potential NBA studs. Within that core, Jackson will be paired in Duke’s backcourt with Grayson Allen. That pairing definitely has some questions as both Allen and Jackson are score-first guards. When you have a team with a talented core, especially with two potential #1 overall picks in next year’s draft in Giles and Tatum, you’re going to need someone to facilitate the offense.
Those potential worries might not be a concern for Coach K, as he dealt with a similar situation last season with Allen and Matt Jones. Like Jackson, Jones was a 6’5 score-first guard that stood as one of the team’s more consistent offensive threats. In that scenario, Coach K pushed a more open offense where you could have multiple facilitators, as Jones, Allen and current Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram shared that facilitating role.
In the upcoming season, that approach could definitely work. Alongside Jackson and Allen, you have Jayson Tatum that could fill into that Ingram role. Like Brandon Ingram, Tatum is a very versatile forward that can work as a reliable facilitator, as I touched in a recent piece on him.
With that core in place, Frank Jackson could definitely thrive during his freshman year. As he continued to show throughout his high school career, Jackson is a huge threat whenever he has the ball as he possess great handles, terrific athleticism and a deadly perimeter jumper. As someone that will probably be Duke’s 3rd or 4th option behind Giles, Tatum and Allen, Jackson should have a plethora of open opportunities as a freshman. Just that thought alone should excite Duke fans around the country.