Position: SF
Height/Weight: 6'8" / 210 lbs
School/Club: North Carolina
Status: Junior
Birthday: March 28, 1995

DRAFT TRADE: Traded to Sacramento Kings

About Justin Jackson

After shooting just .297 from 3 in his first two seasons at North Carolina, Jackson had a clear understanding of what he needed to do in order to expand his game. So he spent hours in the gym during the offseason, refining his stroke. The results were impressive and helped turned Jackson into a player who could leave college with eligibility remaining and become a lottery pick. He still had some inconsistent shooting games in his final season (witness his 0 for 9 effort from 3 in the national championship game against Gonzaga), but for the most part, Jackson’s improved accuracy from behind the arc made him into an almost unstoppable offensive player. How did opposing teams defend him because they suddenly had to respect his 3 ball? Answer: Not very well. Because Jackson already had many other ways to score.


  • Great size for NBA wing player
  • Scores in the midrange
  • Crafty scorer in the paint
  • Great in transition
  • Good in the pick and roll
  • Much-improved jump shooter with range
  • Good passer
  • Moves without the ball


  • Has to get bigger and stronger
  • Could be a better rebounder
  • Should get to the free-throw line more often

NBA projection: Jackson could be chosen as high as the lottery. Having played three years in college and clearly demonstrating that his major weakness (3-point shooting) had been shored up, Jackson could offer immediate help to whatever team takes him.

2016-17 Season
The play of Jackson was vital in North Carolina’s run to the 2017 national championship. Jackson led the Tar Heels in scoring and averaged the most points by a UNC player since Tyler Hansbrough (20.7) in 2009. He also racked up the most 20-point games (19) since Hansbrough notched 21 in 2009. Jackson wound up a consensus first-team All-America, was ACC Player of the Year and first-team all-conference, and in the postseason, he was chosen to the NCAA South Regional and All-Final Four teams. He’s one of only three Tar Heels in history to win ACC Player of the Year and a national championship in the same season (Lennie Rosenbluth, 1957; Ty Lawson, 2009).

Key statistics: 18.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.7 tpg, 1.0 spg, 32.0 mpg, .443 FG, .370 3PT, .746 FT

Career Highlights: One of three Tar Heels to win the ACC Player of the Year Award and lead UNC to a national championship in the same season. Talied 239 career points in NCAA Tournament play, second most by a Tar Heel ever. Joined Rick Fox as the only Heels with 1,600 career points, 150 threes, 400 boards and 300 assists.

Cool statistic: Jackson is North Carolina’s second all-time leading scorer in the NCAA tournament (239 points).

Reminds me of: Matt Barnes

What Insiders Say
North Carolina coach Roy Williams

“His shot is going in this year. So I told him I wanted him to be more aggressive. We need him to rebound more. We need him to get to the free-throw line more. He hadn't gotten to the free-throw line as much as I think he should have. And I think a lot of times, because he's got the little floater and everybody thinks it's okay because he still got the shot off. But I think he's done a fantastic job for us, understanding that we want him to score and need him to score.”

What Outsiders Say
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson

“He's leading their team. And he's expanded his range. I see him cutting to the basket. He can rebound the basketball. He can pass it. I’ve had a chance to see this kid grow. Watching him even from high school; [I] tried to recruit him a little bit. But when you look at two years ago, he was a true freshman. Now he's like the leader of this basketball team. So he's grown as a player, and that's what good players do. They develop. And I think he's developed into a very good outstanding player.”


Chris Dortch is the editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. You can email him here, follow him on Twitter and listen to the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Hour.

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