The Big Ten's middle looks to be better than it was last year - but it couldn't be worse.
Basketball opened their 2020 recruiting class today with a commitment from OH PG Zeb Jackson, a rapidly-rising prospect who gathered early offers from virtually all of the Midwest basketball powers. Jackson is very close with Zavier Simpson and his dad; Jackson told Josh Henschke that Quincy is "like his uncle." Ace wondered if we'll find out that it's actually "Xeb" next year and now I desperately want this to happen.
Despite the Simpson connection, Jackson is basically the opposite kind of point guard. He's tall—6'3" according to his coach. He's a shooter coming off a 39% from 3, 81% from the line AAU season. And some of the main Areas For Improvement that get mentioned by scouts involve his defensive chops and level of commitment.
To the various subject headings:
|4*, #72 overall
|NR||4*, #58 overall
#17 SG, #2 OH
|4*, #66 overall
#18 SG, #2 OH
ESPN only has a top 60 for 2020 basketball recruits and Jackson is not inside it. Rivals and 24/7 are in fairly close agreement except when it comes to his position. Michigan is saying he's a point guard.
Jackson might have more upward mobility. He's already risen since June, when he was an unranked three-star, and has shot up from 5'9" as a freshman to a coach-reported 6'3". As he fills that new height out and maybe gets another inch or two he could creep up into the top 50.
Prep Hoops, which is an Ohio-based scouting service that took in a bunch of AAU events over the summer, named him their player of the year after the AAU season concluded:
…efficient wing scorer equally capable of hitting a pull-up jumper off a crossover as he is an athletic lefty finish through traffic. He has an uncanny ability to get separation. …
Throughout the previous eight UAA circuit games leading up to the Finals, Jackson averaged 13.5 points (43-39-81 shooting splits) and 3.8 rebounds with a circuit-leading 3.1-1.0 assist/turnover ratio.
… Jackson also became, a better defender this season, showing high-IQ in the help-side, elusiveness in defending a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, and lateral quickness against the ball.
“This year he took a big jump defensively,” Clarke said. “Last year playing up on our 16s, there was time he struggled on the defensive end one-on-one. If you’re going to play at a high-major level, and you know he’s that type of kid, he’s going to have to guard a kid and keep people in front of you. I think this year, especially July, he did a phenomenal job of doing that.”
If the video below is any indication the weak two-point shooting splits are due to a lot of mid-range pull-ups. He looks good when he does it but those shots are always tough. The 39% from three and 81% from the line indicate a guy who is a potential pro-level shooter. Jackson might be a work in progress inside the line early in his career. But then again he's a 2020 so it may work out just fine.
Other takes from Prep Hoops:
His ability to create separation and hit with range off the dribble is unique. As he continues to add consistency from the 3-point line, Jackson closes the gap between production and potential.
Zeb is a long, lean guard with tons of speed and quickness. He’s scoring the ball at a high level mixing and matching everything he has with his shooting, slashing, and finishing ability. He’s really tough and plays at a level faster than everyone else. Showed dynamic separation ability and the jumper looks like a much better weapon than a year ago.
We stopped by one of Jackson’s games on Saturday afternoon and he had one of those absurd three-possession stretches that are becoming routine for him. First, he came down and nailed a triple after jab stepping. Then, Jackson finished off a sloppy possession with a baseline one-foot fall-away shot. Zeb, now feeling it at this point, then did the Durant ball-fake hesitation move (go to 0:28 of this video) to scoot by a defender and get into the lane. His scoring ability is top notch. We’d like him to be more involved defensively though.
Endless Motor also caught him at a couple of events:
…displayed a great looking shot from the perimeter, knocking down multiple threes with range out to 28 feet. While his outside shot dominates the highlight reels, we were most impressed with his ability to create easy shots for teammates. Jackson has great first step acceleration, a nice handle and elite vision which allowed him to repeatedly beat his primary defender and find teammates on dumpoffs and kickouts once helpside defense collapsed on him. His open court speed was also noteworthy, as Zeb kicked it into another gear on a loose ball and won a footrace to the rim before finishing with the off hand.
A true point guard with great size at 6’3, Zeb has great vision as a passer and is phenomenal as a playmaker that creates easy looks for teammates. A fluid athlete with good first step acceleration and a good handle, Jackson thrives breaking a defense down off the bounce while also having a legit stroke from beyond the arch as a scorer.
“He can distribute. … He’s a big point guard. He’s starting to fill out. Muscle and all that is coming along and he’s only a sophomore. I think he’s going to grow a little bit more yet. He’s got great explosion. His skill level is off the charts. I think that’s what a lot of the college coaches are seeing is just his skill, his knowledge of the game.”
“His work ethic is by far the best I’ve seen,” he said. “He just lives in the gym.”
… making good strides with his game as he continues to grow. Jackson is a natural scorer who can put points on the board in a major way. Now he is also passing the ball a bit better, and even showed more of a commitment on the defensive end. This weekend might have asserted Jackson as the top guard in the state of Ohio in his class.
Some guy on a Butler board who accurately projected he was going to blow up:
Overall I absolutely love him. The more I saw him the more convinced I became that he's the type of guard that should be a primary target for Butler in the 2020 class. He's a true combo guard that I'd predict will end up being a 4 star. I think he can crack the top 50. He's got the length to defend off the ball and the lateral quickness to defend point guards. Jackson has a lightning quick crossover that he uses frequently to get anywhere on the court he wants. He was one of the best defensive guards I saw in his class, and his offense is just as good as his defense. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter, but his shot looked smooth, so I suspect that was a fluke. Looks like he is shooting 39% from 3 in the Under Armour association, which supports my thought that he normally knocks down a lot of the shots he was missing this weekend.
He's going to have a flood of offers coming in over the next 3 months. I really hope Butler is one of them. He's ridiculously talented and also feels like a good fit.
So, some conflicting information about his defensive involvement that may be a player realizing he's got to get better on that end and starting to get after it. Some somewhat cautionary notes about his shooting mixed in with high praise for it. Pretty universal declarations that he's a true point guard that are backed up by an excellent A:TO ratio from AAU ball.
A true point guard with big upside.
[After THE JUMP: all the local powers offer]