The country’s top-ranked basketball player is officially a Jayhawk.
Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound senior guard from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., who committed to Kansas University on April 11, has signed and will be a freshman in the upcoming 2016-17 season, KU coach Bill Self announced Tuesday.
Jackson is the second No. 1-rated player to sign with Kansas in the past three seasons. Jackson, No. 1 by Rivals.com and 247Sports — he’s No. 2 by ESPN — joins current Minnesota Timberwolves standout Andrew Wiggins who played at KU in 2013-14.
“Josh has been a guy that is so respected in all high school circles the last four years,” KU coach Self said. “He is probably as highly thought of as any recent player to come out of high school because of his competitive nature. He left Detroit to finish his high school career at Prolific Prep in the Napa area. He is very similar to Andrew Wiggins.
“He’s a tall guard that can do a lot of everything. We feel his impact on our program next year will be as much as any freshman will have on any college program. He’s extremely athletic but more importantly extremely competitive. We have a very competitive culture at Kansas but I think it just got improved with the signing of Josh. He’s a guy that everybody enjoys playing with because he is so unselfish but also a guy that can take a game over.”
Jackson was named McDonald’s All-America in 2016, and he earned co-Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 19 points off 9-of-11 shooting in leading the West team to a 114-107 victory. He also competed in the 2016 Nike Hoops Summit where the USA team defeated the World Team 101-67 on April 9 in Portland, Oregon.
Jackson grew up in Detroit and has played the past two seasons at Prolific Prep. He averaged 26.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game in 2015-16 for head coach Billy McKnight. In his first season at Prolific Prep, Jackson averaged 31.2 points, 17.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.3 steals. Prior to going to Prolific Prep, Jackson led Detroit Consortium to the Class C state title his sophomore year in 2013-14. Jackson is described as an athletic wing who plays above the rim and is an ultimate competitor.
“I played him at the 1-4 positions this year,” McKnight said. “Defensively, I adjusted our scheme this year because of Josh. We literally didn’t help off other players when Josh was guarding 1-on-1. He guarded 1-5 for us. He’s so quick off the ground. His ability to block shots and rebound will make a huge impact.”
Jackson has won three gold medals for the USA at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece.
“Josh has a great feel for basketball, in large part, because (of) his mother, Apples Jones, who played college basketball at Allen County Community College in Kansas and UTEP,” Self said. “His recruitment was fierce, and deservedly so. Coach (Kurtis) Townsend has done such a good job for a long period of time making sure Josh and Apples were both comfortable and educated on our situation and how Kansas could be a good fit for them.”
Jackson joins forward Mitch Lightfoot, who signed with KU in November 2015. Named the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year for 2015-16, Lightfoot, 6-foot-8, averaged 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots this past season in leading Gilbert Christian to a 21-6 record. Lightfoot, who is ranked No. 67 by ESPN100, scored 32 points in the BallisLife All-America game April 30, at Long Beach City College in California.
“Mitch is going to be a guy that nobody can sleep on,” Self said. “Give him a little bit of time and he is going to continue to grow and get stronger. He’s going to be a guy that will help us win games as a freshman but could be a big contributor as moves forward in his career.”
KU also has received a commitment from Udoka Azubuike, a 6-11, 270-pound senior center from Potter’s House Christian in Jacksonville, Fla. He’s ranked No. 27 nationally by Rivals.com.