Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-7 guard and Rivals.com’s top-ranked player in the class of 2016, committed to the Kansas men’s basketball team on Monday.
Here’s a Q-and-A with Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi on Kansas’ newest basketball commit, 6-foot-7 guard and No. 1-ranked player Josh Jackson.
Q: For those who haven’t seen him, what kind of a player is Josh?
A: He’s an open-floor playmaker, gets to the rim. And he’s one of those guys who, while he can certainly score plenty, is able to control games without having to put up huge scoring numbers, via either his defense or playmaking for others or just the intangibles he brings to the floor.
Q: You mentioned some there, but what are his greatest overall strengths?
A: Definitely his play in transition. Me personally, he’s the best player in transition that I’ve ever scouted. The only way you’re going to stop him from getting where he wants to go in transition is for him to make a mistake on his own, at least on the high school level. Obviously, as you move onto college, it’s going to become more difficult. But he really is electric in transition.
Q: You say he’s the best in transition that you’ve scouted. What makes him so good in that aspect?
A: Just his ability to make decisions at full speed and find the weak points in a defense to attack while moving the ball up the floor. He’s not one of those guys that’s got his head down and is just trying to barrel his way to the rim. If the smart play is to move it up the floor 40 feet with a pass, he’ll do that. If he needs to pull up at the free-throw line and find a cutter, he’ll do that. He’s just got a great feel for open-court basketball.
Q: What are some weaknesses, or things he still needs to work on?
A: He’s a little bit shaky with his ball-handling at times. Sometimes he tries to force things a little bit with his decisions, so that’s going to need to be worked on. There’s a little bit of a hitch in his jumpshot, which shows, because he’s not been the greatest free-throw or three-point shooter yet. But it’s not completely broken, and I think that he’s a worker who, when he gets with a college coaching staff, is going to get in the gym and work on things.
Q: I’ve heard a lot of the Andrew Wiggins comparisons. What do you think of that comp?
A: I think he’s a pretty different player. He’s not quite as athletic as Wiggins was, and I don’t think he’s going to be quite the above-the-rim finisher that Wiggins was, but he’s definitely a better ball-handler, and I think he’s got a little more competitive juice than Wiggins did in college. I think that was one of the frustrations with some people is that you didn’t know how competitive he was sometimes. A lot of that had to do with he just made everything look so easy, but similar size, not quite as athletic, better ball-handler, and I think a lot more of an Alpha-type mentality.
Q: I’ve read you talking about him being ‘Alpha’ before. Is he more of that personality?
A: Yeah, he’s not going to hesitate to cuss someone out, on his team or on the other team. That’s just the way he is on the floor. That guy, he want to win pretty bad, and he wears his emotions on his sleeves. But he plays really hard, and off the floor, he’s very engaging, very intelligent. And I think one of the things that’s been underrated about him, the guy has a really high basketball IQ. I watched him go in and basically, just by watching in a quarter, pick up everything that the USA Basketball team last week for the Hoops Summit spent seven or eight hours of practice putting in. He picked it up just like that. He’s a basketball player. He’s not just an athlete.
Q: You talked about his emotional nature. Has that been a positive attribute when you’ve seen it?
A: Yeah. I think so. I’d rather have a dude that I have to turn down a little bit than someone I’m begging to show me some life. I think Kansas fans will enjoy it. I think they have kind of yearned for a vocal, fiery leader for these past few years. That’s what they should be getting in Josh.
Q: Rivals has him ranked No. 1. Do you consider him the best prospect in the class?
A: That’s my call (with Rivals rankings), so yeah, I obviously think he’s the best prospect. The 2016 class is interesting in that I don’t think it has an Anthony Davis or a Kevin Durant or a LeBron James type talent in it, but this class is going to produce a lot of longtime, solid pros out of it. And just for me, Josh is at the top with the way the game is going. After being in situations where NBA guys could watch him the last couple weeks, the feedback I’ve gotten from NBA guys is that at least heading into college, he’s at the top of their boards here from the class of 2016.
Q: What kind of fit is he at KU with the players returning?
A: I think he’s a great fit. How many minutes did Wayne Selden play per game? That’s a lot of minutes to fill. I would imagine he’s got a good chance to fill a pretty good amount of those, so I think he’s a good fit. He’s going to be able to play defense the way Bill Self wants defense played, and I think he’s a guy Kansas fans and the Kansas staff are going to really enjoy having around.