Josh Jackson brings 'alpha dog mentality' to court, doesn't mind talking trash
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has to love bringing in some of the country’s top-ranked freshmen year after year.
Naturally, some first-year players are more exciting than others — even if Self, like a proud father, wouldn’t admit it. As a coach, few recruiting experiences could possibly match the satisfaction of landing the No. 1 overall high school senior.
And the more you hear about Josh Jackson, the top prep in the Class of 2016, the more it seems Self will be gushing about him for years to come.
Self enjoys coaching talented Jayhawks who possess an array of skills, sure, but he also values toughness and competitive drive — perhaps even more than other discernible traits.
Jackson already has drawn comparisons to the likes of Andrew Wiggins. His wingspan stretches 6 feet, 9 inches, and he’s a 6-foot-8 wing who can handle the ball, finish inside and make plays for his teammates.
But there’s more to Jackson than that. By many accounts, he might end up becoming the most passionate competitor Self has coached at KU. You probably read or heard about ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla claiming back in March that Jackson approaches the game with the motor of one of the NBA’s all-time ruthless spirits, Kevin Garnett.
Well, according to a profile written by Marc J. Spears for The Undefeated, Jackson is so cutthroat he trash-talked a hall of famer during a high school game earlier this year.
One of the NBA’s legendary distributors of dis, Gary Payton sat in the bleachers watching Jackson play against his son, Julian Payton. Jackson, so the story goes, gave the elder Payton a look after blocking his son’s shot. And things escalated from there.
“It was crazy,” Jackson recalled, speaking to The Undefeated. “It was real funny. In my years I never thought I would be in a gym talking smack to Gary Payton.”
Jot it down as just another glimpse at what Fraschilla calls Jackson’s “alpha dog mentality,” which should only help his stock during what is expected to be a one-and-done season at Kansas, followed by a spot among the top five picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. Fraschilla said Jackson is as intense a player as he has seen in the past five to 10 seasons.
Where does he get that volatile alter ego? Jackson explained his penchant for basketball gab and vehement behavior to The Undefeated.
“I want to win. I feel like any player, if you play the sport of basketball, on the court you have to be a tough guy no matter what,” said Jackson, who hails from Southfield, Mich. “I don’t care who you are. Off the court, I don’t necessarily need to be that guy. But you do on the court.”
Just how fervent is Jackson? He actually considers Golden State forward Draymond Green “a big brother” of sorts after the two matched up in a pickup game in Detroit a couple years back.
As hardcore a trash-talker and villain as exists in the NBA, Green left the chance encounter a fan of Jackson’s, too.
“He just got that dog in him,” Green told The Undefeated. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the No. 1 pick next year.”
And we shouldn’t be surprised if Jackson quickly becomes one of Self’s favorite Jayhawks.
— Read The Undefeated’s entire profile on Josh Jackson: He’s got a game to match his mouth