Andre Jackson Jr, I love you 3,000
Albert Ghim is back with a breakdown of Andre Jackson Jr. of the UConn Huskies. Come see why he thinks the junior wing deserves more attention.
If you’re looking for a good time, you’ve come to the right place. This week my piece is going to be jam-packed with talk of defensive rebounding, pushing the ball in transition, and palpable energy on the court. If you can’t get excited about defensive rebounding and rebounding in general, you need help.
This week I’m talking about the outstanding wing of the UConn Huskies, Andre Jackson Jr.
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I’ve never been a coffee drinker and never will be. I’ve never really enjoyed the taste, and I’ve always hated how it made me feel. I’m naturally a morning person; I wake up, jump out of bed, and I’m ready to rock. I do understand that there are others out there that need their coffee to function. Our very own Tyler Rucker usually crushes a whole pot of coffee before the sun even rises. I’ve just never needed it, and I hope I always stay that way. Although I’m not a coffee drinker, I know how it feels to have a shot of energy through your system. I still remember drinking my first and only can of Red Bull ever. I was a freshman in college, and due to peer pressure, I decided to stay overnight in the library with my friends to study for final exams. Thinking back to that time, I wish I had better study habits throughout the semester so I wasn’t cramming right before my exams. I guess that is the college experience, though. But after having a can of Red Bull, I felt the sugar and caffeine waking me up and locking me in. I went on to study all night long and achieved my goal of getting a C+ to just barely miss being on academic probation. I’ve mentioned before I’ve never been an excellent student; I’m not that kind of Asian.
While going through Andre Jackson Jr.’s tape, I remembered that first can of Red Bull, I remembered how it made me feel, how much of an effect it had on my body, and how much it helped me achieve my goal of mediocrity. I hope you don’t think that I’m saying Jackson Jr. is someone that’ll lead you to mediocrity. Me being mediocre was a me problem. The initial point that I’m trying to make is Jackson Jr. is a wild shot of energy that you can feel on the floor and could really assist in helping an NBA team reach its goals.
Let’s jump right in and see why Andre Jackson Jr. is awesome.
Andre Jackson Junior is currently in his junior season for the UConn Huskies. He’s listed at 6’6”, 210 pounds, and is an electric athlete. Currently, his shooting splits are 36/30/69, which isn’t super pretty, but we have to understand that Jackson Jr.’s marquee skill will not be his shooting. With that being said, I do believe it’s an area of his game that I hope he continues to work on because shooting is such a premium skill in the modern NBA, and the more you can shoot, the more reason there will be to keep you on an NBA floor. But ultimately, my breakdown of Jackson Jr.’s game will be rooted in the fact that although he isn’t a good shooter, I think he does plenty on the floor to justify him getting minutes on the next level as well as he works on his shooting.
When you look at the raw numbers, I would totally understand it if you weren’t blown away. Jackson Jr. is currently averaging 6.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. Those aren’t numbers that are going to wow anyone. The main reason why I wanted to write about Jackson Jr. this week is that I believe his game and what he provides on the floor go above and beyond any of his counting stats.
The biggest area of his game where I felt like he impressed me the most was his rebounding and not just his rebounding but the opportunities for rebounds that he creates for himself just by having a nose for the ball. Jackson Jr. is one of those guys that seems to always be around the ball; it’s almost like his body is a magnet to the ball and some way, and somehow, he finds himself around the ball at all times. While going through his tape, I noticed that he may not grab every rebound, but he’s always around the rebound and, in many ways, helps the bigs on his team grab rebounds by boxing out and making sheer effort plays to keep the ball alive. With Jackson Jr. playing next to guys like Adama Sonogo and Donovan Clingan, it’s tough to grab a ton of rebounds. I actually think it’s incredible that he’s even averaging six rebounds per game.
I love how Jackson Jr. is willing to box out, chase down loose balls, and go sky-high in the air to rip balls away from opposing bigs. The overall effort he shows to go grab rebounds on both ends of the floor is actually exciting to watch. He fights so hard, jumps so high, and he rips balls away with such violence that you can’t help but admire what you’re watching. The crazy fun part about Jackson Jr.’s rebounding is that it doesn’t just end with him handing the ball off to a guard and him jogging down the court.
Nine times out of 10, if Jackson Jr. grabs a defensive rebound, he’s looking to book it down the court and create something for himself or his teammates. The grab-and-go ability that Jackson Jr. has enables the Huskies to p[lay with pace and hunt easy open looks in transition. If you watch the compilation of clips I posted above, you can see Jackson’s mentality and how he’s always looking for opportunities to run in transition with the ball in his hands. One of the funniest quirks I noticed with Jackson Jr. is how insanely hard he pounds the ball ahead of him as soon as he grabs a rebound. I think he does it to get himself going forward, but it’s so funny to watch because it looks like he’s trying to throw the ball through the floor.
This is an important skill set to highlight because it adds a wrinkle to what UConn can do on the offensive side of the ball. Playing with pace and having a guy like Jackson Jr. who can initiate that pace off of a rebound is a great luxury that only some teams will have. As a 6’6” wing, Jackson Jr. isn’t the largest human being, but he’s totally unafraid to mix it up among the trees, and that’s just not something you see every day.
With his ability to grab and go, Jackson pairs that with his ability and willingness to pass. One of the things that you’ll notice about his game right away is Jackson Jr. is not a shoot-first guy; if anything, he’s a shoot-last guy. He’s an extremely selfless player that enjoys creating opportunities for his teammates, and we see him do that a ton both in transition and in the halfcourt. If you watch the video compilation below, you’ll see that Jackson Jr. is a pretty solid passer. He’s not a guy that’s making the highest level of reads, but he has moments where he can really flash some solid passing ability.
As I mentioned before, because of Jackson Jr.’s limited shooting, he does have to rely on other skills to keep him on the floor. On the offensive side of the ball, he jumpstarts a ton of stuff with his ability to push the ball up the floor in transition, but he also offers some good qualities in the halfcourt. Jackson Jr. is a good cutter with good timing and feel on his cuts. He does a great job of reading when the defense will collapse on Sanogo and Clingan post-ups. He also does a great job playing off of guys like Jordan Hawkins. Hawkins is one of the best movement shooters in the league; teams will close out hard on his jumper, and Jackson does a good job of cutting to get open or crashing to the hoop for a rebound off the shot.
Jackson Jr. is also capable of running a little pick-and-roll as a ball-handler and does a good job of making some basic reads and passes out of that action that you may not expect. I don’t believe that an NBA team will be comfortable asking him to run pick and roll all the time on the next level, but I do think it’s good for his stock that he’s showing flashes of it and could eventually be a guy that could be relied on as a secondary or tertiary playmaker. At the very least, Jackson Jr. is going to be a solid connector that is always willing to make the extra pass and keep the ball moving, but I do enjoy the fact that he’s shown flashes of some really pretty passing.
Andre Jackson Jr. is the Tasmanian Devil on defense. The first thing you notice is his energy and activity. The guy is completely locked in and trying all kinds of things. On the ball, I think he has incredibly quick feet, and he fights so hard to stay in front of his man to contest shots and beat his man to the spot. Some of the issues I’ve seen is he can be a little too energetic sometimes. He’s so eager to block or contest a shot that he can be a little jumpy sometimes. He can be very susceptible to head and pump fakes. He can also be a little too much on closeouts where he closes out too hard, and his technique isn’t completely sound, so he can be prone to blowbys and giving his man a free lane to the basket. In the passing lanes, he also shows a ton of desire but, once again, can be a little undisciplined and gamble a little too much.
I think it’s important to highlight that the areas in which he needs to improve as a defender are rooted in his supreme motor and desire to compete on that side of the ball. He wants to be a great defender so badly that it sometimes makes him a little over-eager. The best news, though, is all of that is fixable. I’d much rather have a guy who wants to compete on every possession than someone who floats around and loses his man all the time because of laziness and a lack of focus.
I think Jackson Jr. has really good length as well, and he combines that with his athleticism for some highlight-worthy blocks. He’s currently averaging two stocks per game; that’s pretty damn good for a wing. I also love when he does flash discipline on the ball and how he can use his foot speed to shut guys down at times and cause them to panic into a tough shot or pass late in the clock. I think he shows a ton of activity and focus as a help defender as well; just a little more discipline will help him and keep him out of foul trouble, as he’s fouled out twice this season and come close to fouling out a couple of times. He’s pretty good at navigating through screens and, like the rest of his defensive game, fights so damn hard to get over screens and stay close to his man.
The last thing I want to touch on before wrapping things up is that his shot needs a ton of work. I’ve compiled about 20 shots in the compilation above, and you can see that he needs to put in more time in the lab to fix his shot. The first thing that I noticed is his gather. On most of his shots, he’s either gathering really low or almost from his right hip. I do think the shot looks decent at the top, but I would really like for him to gather on his shot a little bit higher, which should help stabilize the shot. As you can see in the video, some of his misses are MISSES.
I’m not a shot doctor, so that’s the best I can do on that front, but whether it’s the eye test or what you see in the numbers, Jackson needs to put in a ton of work on his shot.
The purpose of my piece wasn’t to argue that Jackson Jr. is a superstar on the cusp of greatness. I think he should ultimately be taken anywhere from the end of the first round to anywhere in the second round. As I mentioned earlier, I think his value will be rooted in all the things he can do on the court that can affect the outcome of a game. Unless something miraculous happens between now in the draft, you can consider him to be a non-shooter, but the rest of his game is where his value is. He could eventually become some mix of Doug Christie and Gerald Wallace. He’s going to be a defense-first guy that will offer a ton of perimeter defense, rebounding, and fun in transition. Christie and Wallace both had solid careers as guys who offered a ton on the defensive side of the ball and were a menace in transition. I especially like the Christie comp because he was always a high steals guy and a good passer. Christie was a big part of the really good early 2000s Sacramento Kings teams. I think Jackson Jr. could play a role like that for a contender someday.
If I were working in the NBA front office, I’d have a strong second round grade on him, and I’d be excited to grab him there or even grab him as an undrafted guy if he were to fall through and get not drafted at all. Andre Jackson Jr. is a lot of fun, and he is an easy guy to get behind and root for.
Andre Jackson Jr.,
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