Demetrius Jackson declares for 2016 NBA Draft: What you need to know

Following back-to-back runs to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, it looks like Demetrius Jackson has decided his time in college is over.

The 6-foot-1 Notre Dame point guard has declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, and is expected to sign with an agent and forgo his final season of eligibility.

I am blessed with the opportunity to say I will be declaring for the NBA Draft. It was an honor to represent such a great University and program. There have been many people who’ve helped me along this journey, and I’d like to thank my family, teammates, and coaches for shaping me to be the player and man I am today. The continuous support of the Notre Dame family has made these past three years unforgettable. a huge thank you to my foster family—you opened your home to me, gave me the best possible situation to be successful, and allowed me to open up and trust again. Words will never be enough to describe how you’ve helped me grow. And to all those who believed in me through the ups and downs, thank you. Not only do I have a place to call home with my foster family, but now another at Notre Dame. #NotDoneYet #574

A photo posted by Demetrius Jackson (@d_jay11) onMar 29, 2016 at 6:42pm PDT

Jackson is currently the No. 21 overall prospect on the CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board, and is considered a solid first-round pick in the upcoming draft among evaluators.

Jackson averaged 15.8 points and 4.7 assists for Notre Dame this season after assuming the point guard position full-time after the departure of 2015 first-round pick Jerian Grant. There were positives and negatives to his game this season, though he should end up following in Grant’s footsteps as a first-round pick.

While Jackson is a bit undersized at 6-1, he makes up for it with a 6-5 wingspan (per DraftExpress’ database) and his overall body strength. He’s also an extremely explosive athlete with the ability to rise up and throw down on opponents if necessary as well as get into the lane with a quick first step.

That obviously bears itself out on offense, where Jackson is terrific both in pick-and-roll and isolation situations. His ability to break down the defense and get into the lane is a major plus. He also finishes around the rim in the half-court at a 62 percent clip, which is superb for an undersized guard and likely due in major part to his explosiveness and length. His explosiveness and ability to finish at the rim also help his pullup game, as Jackson is a solid shooter off the dribble and ranked in the 68th percentile of all college basketball players this season.

One place where Jackson took a small step back this season was in his 3-point shooting, although his pure 3-point percentage number makes that problem look worse than it is. Jackson shot 33 percent from 3 this season after a pair of seasons over 40 percent. That largely stemmed from getting fewer chances to shoot off the catch. Jackson still ranked in the 87th percentile nationally in catch-and-shoot jumpers, hitting at a 61.1 effective-field goal percentage.

One place where Jackson could stand to improve is as a passer. He’s still not a completely natural playmaker for others, and can look for his shot a bit too often at times. One benefit is that he does limit turnovers, as his 13 percent turnover rate in each of the past two seasons shows. However, his overall vision is average for the position, and could be the difference between him becoming a full-time starter or a backup scoring guard that can play the lead guard.

Defensively, Jackson is tough on the ball and uses his length and strength well to fight through screens. He’s also relatively pesky with his hands, and can force steals from time to time by getting into passing lanes. Still, he’s going to find himself at a bit of a size disavantage in many contests in the NBA, and that could lead to some issues. He can also be a bit lackadaisical off the ball, sometimes allowing too much space between him and his man and other times gambling a bit too much and going for the spectacular steal. The package is there for him to be a good, pesky defender of point guards, but his size and the off-ball skill displayed thus far likely limits him to defending only point guards.

Overall, Jackson should be helped by what is a relatively weak point guard class. Behind Kris Dunn, he’s right in the mix to be the second point guard drafted along with Wade Baldwin and Tyler Ulis. It also helps that he projects to be a strong pre-draft performer due to his explosiveness and frame, as well as his familiarity with a wide-open, spaced-out offense at Notre Dame. It would be a bit of a surprise to see him fall out of the first round at this point for those reasons.

Demetrius Jackson will be in the NBA next year. (USATSI)
Demetrius Jackson will be in the NBA next season. (USATSI)

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