Kansas freshman guard Josh Jackson officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft on Monday in a move that was long expected for a player currently projected to be a top three pick.
The 6-foot-8 Detroit native, who averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds a game during the 2016-17 season for the 31-5 Jayhawks, has signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group. Signing with an agent means Jackson has eliminated any possibility of returning to school for a sophomore season.
“After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball,” Jackson said Monday in a statement provided to the Associated Press.
“I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas, and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA.”
Jackson, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016 according to ESPN and Rivals.com, finished as KU’s third-leading freshman scorer. His 572 points trailed Andrew Wiggins’ 597 and Ben McLemore’s 589. Jackson tied Danny Manning as KU’s leading freshman rebounder with 258.
“This obviously does not come as a surprise,” KU head coach Bill Self said Monday. “When we recruited Josh we were so fortunate but also knew this would probably be a one-year stay. He has not only surpassed our expectations as a player but also as a leader and a teammate.
“We are all very happy for Josh and his family and are very proud of having coached one of the most talented kids that has ever come through here. We’ve had a lot really good ones here but Josh is as prepared for the next level as anyone that we have ever had.”
Self at Tuesday’s KU basketball banquet gushed about Jackson’s contributions.
“I don’t tell our guys very often how good they are, but do you guys realize how good Josh Jackson is?” Self said, speaking to the fans.
“Do you not know that Danny (Manning) was a really good player here and he averaged 14 (points) as a freshman? And Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) was a really good player here, and he averaged a little more than that. He averaged 17, and Josh averaged (16.3). But Josh came in here, and this dude shot 44 percent in league play from three, has unbelievable vision.
“We asked him to guard (Purdue’s) Caleb Swanigan. And what’d he do? He locked him up. But that’s just who he is, so competitive. To see him grow, and as the season went on, get more and more comfortable, it was so fun to watch.”
Self late in the season said Jackson will definitely be able to contribute to a team early in his NBA career.
“He is a complete player. He is one of the few guys his age who really understand how to make a team better by doing a little bit of everything,” Self said. “A lot of guys can see it and everything, but maybe don’t have the experience or wherewithal to go out and be able to defend the post, defend the point guard, be able to switch any ball screens, be able to be a point forward, be able to drive it downhill, to have great vision, to be a great passer, to be the best offensive rebounder. I think he does a lot of things that allows a team the best chance to win.”
Jackson on March 24, the day before KU’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight loss to Oregon, commented on how he benefited from a rule that forces players to attend college a year out of high school before heading to the NBA Draft.
“I could not imagine playing (in NBA) right now,” Jackson said. “I honestly don’t think I’d be ready to go and play. Having a year in college is way better than coming out of high school in my opinion. I feel now I’m a lot more ready personally than I would be coming out of high school.”
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins this past season said Jackson will be a successful pro player.
“He’s got to be a top-five pick,” Huggins said. “He has incredible athleticism. He plays the whole game. He has done a great job defensively running through balls and making plays on the defensive end. He can rebound it. He’s started to make perimeter shots. He’s so explosive, getting the ball to the basket, finishing. I don’t know if there’s much he can’t do. He has incredible athleticism. He’s a great athlete. Those are the guys who play 100 games for about 10 to 12 years, 100 games a year.”
Jackson was involved with two off-court incidents during his one season at KU.
On Feb. 24, prosecutors charged him with one misdemeanor count of criminal property damage after alleging he kicked the driver’s door and rear taillight of a car driven by KU women’s basketball player McKenzie Calvert during the early morning hours of Dec. 9 outside the Yacht Club bar and restaurant. Jackson’s trial setting is set for May 24, though his attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he planned to file for diversion.
In a different matter, Jackson was ticketed Feb. 7 for “duty upon striking an unattended vehicle, inattentive driving and improper backing” and was subsequently suspended one game by coach Bill Self. His date in Lawrence Municipal Court is set for May 26.
The NBA rookie scale for 2017-18 indicates that as No. 1 pick, Jackson would make $5,855,200 next season, $6,949,900 his second year and $8,121,000 his third season. As No. 2 pick, he’d make $5,238,800 next season, $6,218,300 his second year and $7,266,100 his third season. As No. 3 pick, he’d make $4,704,500 next season, followed by salaries of $5,584,000 and $6,525,000 in years two and three. The NBA Draft is June 22 in New York. The draft lottery is May 16.