Kansas just entered the conversation for the 2017 national title.
Yes, one commitment can do that, and in this case, it’s a huge one. Josh Jackson verbally pledged to KU on Monday night. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard from Detroit is considered by some — including the 247 composite — to be the best player in the Class of 2016. Better than Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, both of whom are going to Duke. Better than Kentucky-bound De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
Next year I will be attending Kansas University ???? #RCJH pic.twitter.com/rmBiF85n4J
— Josh Jackson (@j_josh11) April 12, 2016
Jackson rounds out the top five with those other four as the cream of the 2016 class. And he’ll be wearing KU blue next season. In landing Jackson, Bill Self has earned the commitment of the No. 1 recruit in America for the second time in four years; Andrew Wiggins in 2013 was the other.
The Jayhawks’ chances are winning a 13th straight Big 12 title also rise significantly with this commitment. Joining Jackson in KU’s freshman class, as of now, are a couple of four-star players: big man Udoka Azubuike and power forward Mitch Lightfoot.
Entering Monday, Kansas had the 41st-ranked class in the country. Jackson agreeing to play for Self will immediately vault KU into the top 10. Jackson is a long, strong wing player who can play at the rim, is tough to guard and can defend at every level. He’s a great athlete and can also handle an offense, if needed. He’ll almost certainly be one-and-done at KU; Jackson’s skill set and body type make him a prototypical NBA wing, similar to Tatum at Duke. The difference with Jackson is his game has more aggression than Tatum’s, and he’s a better defender.
Jackson played at the Nike Hoop Summit last week. CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie, was there in Portland. Here’s what he had to say about Jackson, who apparently came just in time to play:
“Jackson did not show up to Portland until 15 minutes before the Thursday night scrimmage started. During that scrimmage, Jackson did what he typically does: played harder than anyone else on the floor, showcased tremendous athleticism, and also portrayed terrific passing ability. Really, the passing was what he most showed off this week, as his vision for making plays for others is terrific both in half-court and transition settings.”
Kansas is ranked fourth in the CBS Sports Ridiculously Early Top 25 (and one). That ranking was made with the presumption that Jackson would land at KU, so the Jayhawks will hold firm at No. 4. The Jayhawks definitely lose Perry Ellis (graduation), Jamari Traylor (graduation), Wayne Selden (early NBA entry), Brannen Greene (early NBA entry) and Hunter Mickelson (graduation). Cheick Diallo has a decision to make in staying in the draft pool or returning to KU for his sophomore season. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham will be back in the backcourt for KU, but Jackson will be Kansas’ best player next season regardless of position.