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Maryland's Justin Jackson to meet with family before deciding about NBA draft

Maryland forward Justin Jackson told reporters in Toronto on Tuesday after working out with the hometown Raptors that he will meet with his family before deciding whether to take his name out of the NBA draft or forgo the remaining three years of his college career.

Jackson, who grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, has until midnight Wednesday to make his decision.

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"I've really got to sit down, discuss with my family, my circle and really try to figure things out," Jackson said. "It's been happening frequently on and off, but tonight we're really going to sit down and have a big discussion, write down pros and cons and try to figure it out."

Asked what he has heard from NBA scouts and front-office personnel about whether he would be drafted, and where in the two-round draft he might go, Jackson said: "Truthfully, I'm hearing a whole bunch of different things. It's kind of mixed right now."

Coming out of the recent NBA scouting combine in Chicago, a number of scouts projected Jackson as a potential late second-round pick in 2017 and recommended that the 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward return to College Park for his sophomore year. A number of mock drafts list Jackson as a potential first-round pick in 2018.

Scouts are believed to be intrigued by Jackson's 7-3 wingspan and his ability to step outside for 3-point shots. As a freshman, Jackson shot a team-high 43.8 percent on 3-pointers, pulled down a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game and finished second in scoring to junior guard Melo Trimble with 10.5 points per game.

After a strong start in the Big Ten, including back-to-back wins at Minnesota and Ohio State in which he averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds, Jackson struggled with his offensive consistency down the stretch.

Jackson said having the option of returning to school – he didn't sign with an agent – has made the process of going through the NBA combine and workouts with three NBA teams less stressful.

"I'd probably say it's a bit easier because I have something to fall back on if things didn't go well," he said. "At the end of the day, I tried to go to every workout, go to the combine, give my 100 percent and hopefully that 100 percent will come back to me."

It marks the second straight year that a key player for the Terps will go down to the wire before deciding whether to return. A year ago, Trimble decided to come back after going through the combine and individual team workouts. Jackson can relate to what Trimble, who chose this year to sign with an agent after his his junior season, went through.

"Everyone's just trying to gather as much information as possible, trying to make the best decision," Jackson said.

Asked whose opinion he trusts the most, Jackson said: "Truthfully, you can't trust too many people, just my circle, my family, my coaches that have been with me since I started playing basketball, the new integrated family at the University of Maryland, I knew they have my best interests at heart. Just a real small, tight circle."

Raptors player personnel director Dan Tolzman called Jackson a "very intriguing" prospect who despite being considered something of a project will certainly get consideration if he decides to remain in the June 22 draft.

"He's got so many things going for him in terms of size and positional size and athletic ability and God-given intangibles that you don't find on a lot people," Tolzman told reporters after Jackson's workout Tuesday. "He's going to be an intriguing player to watch if ends up going back. He's going to be a very highly scouted in college basketball. But if he stays in, too, he's a guy that's going to be discussed in our room, for sure."

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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