Many thought Justin Jackson had made a mistake by not returning to Maryland for his junior year next season after missing all but 11 games of the 2017-18 season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
More than a few critical of Jackson’s decision to put his name into this year’s NBA draft and sign with an agent believed his opportunity to get picked — even in the second round — had passed.
Fortunately for the 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward from Canada, it hadn’t.
After former Maryland teammate Kevin Huerter was taken in the first round (No. 19 overall) by the Atlanta Hawks, Jackson was selected by the Nuggets with the No. 43 overall pick.
Jackson was traded to the Orlando Magic for the rights to Kentucky forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who had been selected two picks earlier. The Nuggets, who also sent a future second-round pick to Orlando in the deal, announced the move on Twitter.
It marked the second time in the past three years that the Terps had two players taken in the same draft, following the selections of Jake Layman and Diamond Stone in 2016. Layman and Stone were chosen in the second round.
Though Jackson might have gone higher had he remained in the draft after a strong freshman year and a solid performance at the league’s combine, it showed that NBA scouts and general managers see potential in Jackson.
Jackson was unable to perform at the league’s combine last month — the same place where Huerter’s stock rose significantly — after recovering from shoulder surgery in early January.
But Jackson’s 7-foot-3 wingspan and his team-high 43.8 percent shooting from 3-point range as a freshman — compared with just 25 percent (10-for-40) last season — led the Magic to trade for him after Orlando drafted Texas center Mo Bamba with the No. 6 overall pick.