Future Watch: Jaren Jackson Jr. Rookie Basketball Cards, Grizzlies
It took some time, but the Memphis Grizzlies have committed to a full rebuild. After spending years as a middle seed in a loaded Western Conference, Memphis took a big step back last season. The road back to the playoffs will be rough, but the organization’s first round pick has fans optimistic.
Jaren Jackson Jr. came onto the scene as a prep at Park Tudor High school in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was a varsity player for three seasons, and helped the team win two IHSAA state titles. In his three years at Park Tudor, he averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds and three blocks per game. For his senior season, the talented big man would transfer to La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana. After another solid season, Jackson set his sights on the NCAA. Scout.com, Rivals and 247Sports all ranked him as a 5-star recruit. ESPN ranked him 8th overall in their ESPN 100.
Jackson was elected as a member of the USA’s Men’s under-17 basketball team in 2016. He helped the team win a gold medal at the FIBA 2016 World Championships. In the tournament, he averaged 4.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots per game while shooting 53% from the field. He also participated in the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit where he scored 13 points with 9 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
Jackson was recruited by Notre Dame, Butler, Indiana, Purdue and Maryland. He ultimately decided to play for Tom Izzo at Michigan State. In his freshman season for the Spartans, Jackson played in 33 games, starting in 32 of them. He averaged 11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists over 22.2 minutes per game. At the end of the regular season, Jackson was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. He was also elected to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten’s Third Team. After the season, Jackson declared himself eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft, foregoing his final three years of college eligibility.
Heading into the draft, Jackson was seen as a surefire top ten pick. Many analysts thought he could even go inside the top five. He showed off some incredible physical tools, standing 6’10” with a 7’4” wingspan and a 9’1” standing reach. Jackson is capable of guarding both the power forward and center position. He has the footwork to extend beyond the paint to guard small-ball power forwards. His length gives him the ability to block shots and disrupt passing lanes, making him a solid defensive anchor. At Michigan State, he shot 52% from the field, including 39.6% from deep. His shooting stroke needs some work, but he has the confidence and work ethic to develop into a scorer from all over the court. On draft night, Memphis scooped up Jackson with the fourth overall pick.
Through three games this season, Jackson is averaging 26.7 minutes. An injury to starting power forward JaMychal Green has given Jackson the opportunity to start and he’s been fantastic. He’s averaging 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks through those three games. Most impressive is Jackson’s attitude on the court. He’s an energetic rebounder who uses his length and size to clean up boards on both ends of the court. The Grizzlies will give Jackson every opportunity to shine in their frontcourt this season. Not only does he deserve solid minutes every night, but he should have a place in your collection as well.
Currently, you can find Jaren Jackson Jr.’s rookie cards in 2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Collegiate Basketball. He’s featured in his Michigan State jersey in that set. Coming up, collectors can find him in his Memphis Grizzlies uniform in Panini’s 2018-19 Hoops, Certified and Absolute to name a few.
Follow him on Twitter @jarenjacksonjr.
Check out Jaren Jackson Jr.’s interview with Russ Cohen at the 2018 Panini NBA Rookie Photoshoot
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