Maryland forward Justin Jackson is on the list of 182 players who have applied for early eligibility to this year’s NBA draft, but the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Canadian has not signed with an agent, team sources in College Park said Tuesday.
Jackson finished his freshman year as the team’s leading rebounder (6.0) and 3-point shooter (43.8) and its second-leading scorer (10.5) behind junior guard Melo Trimble, who is forgoing his senior year and has signed with an agent.
After coming off the bench his first two games, including scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds in the team’s comeback win over Georgetown at Verizon Center, Jackson started the rest of the season.
One of three freshmen along with point guard Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter to start for a Maryland team that got off to the best start (20-2) in school history, Jackson saw his production fall off toward the end of the season when the Terps lost seven of their last 11 games.
After averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds in back-to-back road wins at Minnesota and Ohio State in late January, hitting 17 of 27 shots and seven of 10 3-pointers, Jackson averaged a little over eight points and five rebounds the rest of the season.
During that late-season 11-game stretch, Jackson shot 31 of 84 overall, including 15 of 38 on 3-pointers.
While he and Huerter were among Maryland’s most versatile two-way players as freshmen, Jackson had a tendency to disappear offensively at times. He was held to single figures seven times in that 11-game stretch.
Jackson’s length – he reportedly has a 7-3 wingspan – and his shooting range have piqued the interest in NBA scouts, though he is not mentioned by any of the more high-profile mock drafts in either the first or second round for this year. He is still being mentioned as a possible first-round pick in 2018 by DraftExpress.com.
Jackson is one of 27 freshmen on the early-eligibility list, with several of them expected to go toward the top of the draft. As an underclassman, Jackson has until May 24 to withdraw his name and return to school as long as he doesn't sign with an agent. The draft will be June 22.
It isn’t known whether Jackson will be invited to the NBA scouting combine next month in Chicago, where Maryland had four players last season – Trimble, freshman center Diamond Stone, senior forward Jake Layman and redshirt junior forward Robert Carter Jr. Stone and Layman were second-round picks. Trimble waited until right before the deadline before announcing that he was returning to Maryland.
Unlike Stone, who dropped out of school after the season and signed with an agent, Jackson is still taking classes and working out with his teammates in their offseason conditioning program.
Unless Jackson’s stock shoots up dramatically in the next month, it’s expected he will return to College Park for his sophomore season. After playing almost exclusively at power forward last season, Jackson is expected to play more at small forward with the arrival of freshman power forward Bruno Fernando.