In my 14 years in the business, Josh Jackson is the top shooting guard I’ve ever scouted. In accordance with that, we’ve bumped the Kansas signee, already considered the top player in the nation, to a 102 overall rating in our final Top247 for the class of 2016.
That 102 is the highest in 247Sports’ history of grading players.
Who does Jackson compare to coming out of high school? It’s a tough question. Several of the current top shooting guards in the NBA were under-the-radar prospects who blossomed after high school. As far as strictly high school play alone goes, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo and J.R. Smith stand out as some of the top shooting guards I’ve scouted prior to Jackson, but none of them compare to Jackson in terms of overall game.
I said last year that Kobe Bryant comes to mind when scouting Jackson. You hate to throw out a name like that for such a young guy, but the Detroit native has a lot of the same things that made Bryant a star coming out of Philadelphia’s Lower Merion High School in 1996.
In seeing Jackson in person about 30 times over the years, his game begins and ends with his competitiveness. Sometimes you see this level of fight in a point guard or a bruising interior player, but rarely, if ever, from a wing playmaker. Then I would mention Jackson’s ball handling and passing. He loves to distribute the ball. And at 6-foot-7 he has the instincts of a high level point guard in seeking and manufacturing opportunities for his teammates. Next is his work on the defensive end of the court. In an age where many top prospects hide defensively, Jackson seeks out the opponent’s biggest threat with the purpose of shutting him down. And he is also an eager rebounder. Few, if any, shooting guards I’ve scouted have hunted down rebounds like he does.
As far as his scoring is concerned, Jackson is one of the top scoring threats in the class. Yes, the consistency of his long range jumper is the weakness of his game. But he is a natural scorer, one who can find points wherever they are available. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of his game is that he scores to win — not to produce points.
I haven’t even mentioned his athleticism. Some regard Jackson as an elite athlete. I’d modify it to a good-to-great athletic in terms of explosiveness. That is why I begin with his competitiveness and skill package because the combination of the two with his very good athleticism make him an elite wing prospect — as good of one as I’ve seen in quite some time.
Jerry Meyer is the Director of Basketball Scouting for 247Sports. You can follow him on Twitter.