With football season in full-swing, basketball writers have been left to ponder about what could happen this coming season. SB Nation has started to think what the NBA will look like in 2021, while The Ringer has turned its focus to the 2018 Draft.
Maryland basketball’s Justin Jackson landed in the top-10 in their latest mock, which comes over a month before the Terps’ first action. Jonathan Tjarks, one of the three draft analysts on the panel, pegged him as the No. 6 pick in this early going, calling Jackson his “favorite sleeper” in the class.
Part of Tjarks’ reasoning lies in the fact that Maryland, for the first time since joining the Big Ten, will be without Melo Trimble. As the second-leading scorer for the Terps’ last season, Jackson is directly in line to benefit from the need for a new alpha.
Combine that with his versatile skill set and a prototypical NBA build, and Jackson is going to turn the heads of more than a couple league scouts next season. Tjarks summed up his opportunity nicely:
He has everything NBA teams are looking for in a combo forward: He has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and the strength and speed to guard all five positions at the college level. Jackson can switch screens and protect the rim on defense, and he can step out and knock down 3s (43.8 percent on 3.2 attempts per game) and create shots for his teammates on offense. He has all the tools to be a special player, and now we will get the chance to see if he can put them all together.
The top of next year’s draft class is stocked with franchise changing talent, with the likes of Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, Deandre Ayton, Michael Porter Jr. and Mo Bamba going ahead of Jackson in this mock. After those five there’s a drop in talent, which could allow Jackson to work his way into the top-10 with a stellar sophomore season.
This is still all speculative and could just be a case of a writer really liking a prospect, as The Ringer was the only site to have Jackson as a 2017 first round pick. However, Jackson was rated as the No. 15 pick in DraftExpress’ most recent 2018 mock, so a lottery selection isn’t out of the question.