Who’s Got Next? Justin Jackson in Chapel Hill Along With Desi Rodriguez and Malik MarquettiPosted by Sean Moran on December 31st, 2013
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin Jackson is Ready for Chapel Hill
The top prospect in Roy Williams’ No. 4 rated recruiting class of 2014 is a rather unorthodox Top 10 recruit. Small forward Justin Jackson has been on the national radar since his freshman year in high school, a year that included a Sports Illustrated feature as a 15-year old. But he won’t be labeled a one-and-done prospect the minute he puts on a Carolina jersey like many of his highly-touted classmates. Standing at 6’8” and only 180 pounds, the No. 9 ranked player in the country has a slender build that belies a diverse skill set. In the summer of 2011 Jackson was primarily known as a three-point specialist on the Houston Hoops AAU team that was comprised of kids two years older than him. Now in his senior year, Jackson is anything but a long-range specialist, instead relying heavily on his strong mid-range game.
A rarity in the analytics age of close shots around the basket and corner threes, his patented shot is a floater from eight to 12 feet along with a soft one-dribble jump shot. During the spring and summer of 2013, Jackson teamed up with two other Top 10 prospects in Kelly Oubre (#6 overall – 2014) and Justise Winslow (#10 overall – 2014) to become one of the most efficient players on the AAU circuit. He averaged 17.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. He also shot 40 percent from the three-point line, but only attempted 37 treys in 24 games. Previously just an outside shooter, it seemed as though Jackson was not as confident in his jumper entering his senior season and discussed areas for improvement with Scout.com‘s Evan Daniels. “Definitely get stronger and just getting my three-point shot back,” Jackson said. “I’ve been working on it.” Ten games into his senior season, he is averaging 31.7 points per game and was recently named the Most Outstanding Player at the High School OT Invitational held in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Next year, the 6’8” Jackson will provide depth on the wing to a talented Tar Heels squad which might allow sophomore guard Marcus Paige to revert back to his natural point guard position. Senior Leslie McDonald will graduate, leaving sophomore J.P. Tokoto as the only other returning wing. With his height and 6’9.5” inch wingspan, Jackson’s length will make life difficult on the perimeter for smaller defenders. UNC fans are not accustomed to a perimeter player who specializes in floaters and one dribble jump shots, but Jackson’s efficiency and style will earn him instant playing time in Chapel Hill.
Seton Hall Lands Desi Rodriguez
Last week this column featured shooting guard sensation Isaiah Whitehead, the highest-ranked player to sign with Seton Hall since Eddie Griffin in 2000. Now, Whitehead will have his Lincoln (NY) teammate, Desi Rodriguez, joining him as a Pirate. The 6’6” forward is currently unranked, but his stock started to rise when he transferred out of a smaller Bronx high school to the powerhouse Lincoln program before his junior year. Last week, Rodriguez was named to the all-tournament team at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament after he averaged 20 points and eight rebounds per game there, which included a 25-point game against Ben Simmons (#8 overall – 2015), one of the top junior forwards in the country. Seton Hall assistant Freddie Hill watched Whitehead and Rodriguez several times while in Florida and as soon as the tournament was over, Seton Hall had its fifth recruit in the class of 2014. “Me and Isaiah had a talk,” the 6’6″ Rodriguez told SNY.tv by phone. “We play together well and we felt like we should follow each other to college. I made a decision and I think it was the best opportunity.”
USC Nabs Senior On the Rise
It’s common for high school recruits to come out of nowhere in the spring or summer before their senior season with all of the AAU and camp play that takes place. Just look at Myles Turner, who went from an unranked player after his junior season to the No. 2 prospect in the country. It’s not as common to come out of nowhere during someone’s senior season, but that is definitely the case for Malik Marquetti, a rising star who just committed to USC. The 6’6” wing is currently a three-star recruit, but the buzz from Long Beach about him has been building quickly over the past month. With limited interest at the start of his senior season at Millikan (CA) High, Marquetti’s play soon drew interest from schools in all of the major conferences, including Michigan State and Kansas. He will join three other recruits, highlighted by four-star point guard Jordan McLaughlin (#38 overall – 2014) in Andy Enfield’s first recruiting class at USC. With the Trojans in rebuilding mode, there will be plenty of playing time available for a player who overcame a lack of exposure with endless hard work. “I know I’m his coach and I’m supposed to say certain things but I’m also a man of integrity,” said his high school coach Clark Francis. “Malik has probably worked harder than any kid in country to get to this point. He worked for this and for him to commit to the Trojans, it’s like a fairy tale story.”