I have already resigned myself to this ranking probably being wrong, but if I overreacted to two preseason games it would go against virtually everything I believe in about basketball analysis, so 3rd it is.
Jackson, the #1 or 2 ranked recruit depending on which site you look at, picked Kansas over Michigan State and Arizona this spring. He was 6-12 with 4 rebounds, an assist, and 2 blocks in the team’s first preseason game, and was 4-9 with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks in the second preseason game. He’s also been an impressive on ball defender and showed a pretty good understanding of where to be off the ball so far, which is one of the tougher things for freshmen to adapt to under Bill Self (maybe not terribly surprising considering he enjoys chess).
Probably the biggest calling card for Jackson is his versatility. He probably won’t lead the Jayhawks in any one category, but will likely finish top 3 in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. And, at 6-7 with a 6-9.75 wingspan, Jackson has the potential to be a lockdown defender who can defend smaller guards and bigger wings, and also not get killed on the glass. It is (obviously) incredibly valuable to have a guy who can not only play the 4 alongside Mason, Graham, and Vick or the 2 or 3 with Mason, Svi, and Bragg (or go super big with Bragg and Lucas), but do all of those things well.
Jackson isn’t quite the athlete Andrew Wiggins was/is. But no one is so that’s ok. He’s, uh, a good enough athlete I think:
The one real drawback in Jackson’s game is his outside shooting. I think he can get to 33 percent or so from deep, which is good enough for a guy who should be able to get to the rim basically at will and get fouled a ton, but he needs to quit with the stepbacks and long twos.
Talentwise, Jackson is probably the best guy on the team. But there will likely be some growing pains, rough days both offensively and defensively, and he will need some time to find his place in the team. I am also a little worried that the wing’s traditional role in Bill Self’s offense could constrain him a bit, but Andrew Wiggins was able to overcome it and Jackson’s versatility should get him enough minutes at the 2 and the 4 to get some easier baskets inside rather than just being a catch and shoot guy. And he’s going to be a terror in transition. And he’s going to be able to guard pretty much anybody the other team has to offer. Yeah, this is probably going to be too low.