Jaren Jackson Jr. was living the good life at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis.
After his junior season, Jackson was selected to be a part of the Indiana All-Star Core team which consists of the top six junior high school players in the state. Shortly after that, he was also offered a roster spot on the USA U17 World Championship team who won the Gold Medal this summer in Spain.
But, even after all the success, he had his junior season, there was still room to improve.
Jackson wanted a challenge. He wanted to play with the best day in and day out every day in practice. Park Tudor, the alma mater of former Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell and current Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett, didn’t offer what the 6-foot-11 17-year old needed.
So he made the switch. A popular trend in today’s day and age, Jackson decided to transfer to a school that would challenge him more and forces him to become a better player.
About 2.5 hours up US-31 was a little prep school known for its basketball tradition. In the town of La Porte, Indiana was where Jackson was to call his new home. La Lumiere, a boarding school with a little over 200 students, is notorious for bringing high school kids from not only around the United States but also the whole world.
Jackson would team up with other senior high-major prospects such as fellow McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic participant Brian Bowen, Michigan commit Jordan Poole, Creighton signee Jacob Epperson from Australia, along with a highly touted sophomore guard in Tyger Campbell to revenge La Lumiere’s loss in the 2016 Dick’s National Championship.
Throughout the year, La Lumiere was ranked #1 in the USA Today High School Rankings playing against the best competition and other highly ranked players.
Ultimately leading his team to a Dick’s National Championship, Jackson blossomed and immediately proved himself as one of the best big men in the 2017 Class.
Over the past couple weeks, Jackson has held his own against fellow All-Americans and showed flashes of his lottery pick potential in practices and games. In the Nike Hoops Summit last week, Jackson put up 13 points and 10 rebounds in the 98-87 in the win over the World Team.
The scary thing about Jackson is he hasn’t even turned 18 yet. Similar to Purdue big Caleb Swanigan who reclassified and skipped his senior year of high school, Jackson technically should be a part of the 2018 class because he turns 18 this upcoming September.
According to ESPN NBA Draft Insider Chad Ford, “Jackson is a classic modern 4, with length, athleticism, an outstanding 3-point shot and the ability to rebound and protect the rim.” As of now, Ford has Jackson as No. 6 in the 2018 NBA Mock Draft.
Jackson can do a little bit of everything. Big men who can run the floor and finish in transition are vital in college basketball nowadays. Not only can he finish around the rim, but Jackson also can step out and beat his opponents from the perimeter with his silky smooth stroke.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is known for his excellent player development especially this year with freshman big man Nick Ward who had trouble adjusting at the beginning of the year but then went on to become a huge reason why Sparty snuck into the tournament.
With Miles Bridges confirming he’ll be returning to East Lansing along with a majority of last year’s youthful roster, Jackson has a legitimate chance to flourish in Izzo’s system as he will be relied on to contribute right away.
Joining Jackson is the No. 82 ranked player in the class according to ESPN.com F Xavier Tillman. In addition to those two, Brian Bowen and 4-star guard Mark Smith are still on the market and consider MSU to be one of their potential landing spots.
This 2017 class for Michigan State has all the talent and potential in the world to be special. With Jackson leading the charge, the national title could be heading back to East Lansing soon.
Featured Image via 247 Sports