Miles Bridges news unlikely to have any impact on Josh Jackson's decision
I get it. I really do. And I’m right there with you. Sort of.
The idea of Kansas freshman Josh Jackson returning for his sophomore season is wonderful to think about. But it’s a total waste of time and, therefore, is hazardous to the health of Kansas basketball fans.
Like so many one-and-done Jayhawks before him, I’d love nothing more than to see Jackson return so we can watch a player of his ability, up close and personal, for another year.
But it’s not happening.
Not might. Not maybe he’ll be the guy who does it differently. Not Lloyd Christmas’ “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” line. Just not.
I’m sure most people know this. And I’m sure you all know the reasons why, so I won’t waste your time or mine rehashing that here. Jackson’s lifelong dream has been to play in the NBA and he’s about to be one of the top players picked in the draft. Easy decision.
With that said, I can’t blame those KU fans who do know it but are such die-hard Jayhawks that they can’t help but wish for even the longest of long shots to come through. That’s part of what being a fan is all about. As long as you can handle it when the bubble bursts.
In a move that has shocked all kinds of college basketball analysts, Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges, a likely lottery pick himself, appears to be returning for his sophomore year. He’ll make an announcement at Michigan State’s arena tonight, and, much like Roy Williams’ announcement the first time he was courted by North Carolina, you generally don’t get a bunch of people together to give them bad news.
So the likely assumption is that Bridges is staying. Good for him. He’s got Top 3 potential and could — could — help himself a little by returning for a second season in East Lansing.
His return, if that’s what’s happening, will be great for college basketball and, obviously, even greater for Tom Izzo and the Spartans.
Because Bridges and Jackson grew up together and come from the same environment, many KU fans have spun the Bridges news into having some kind of impact on Jackson’s decision.
I also get that. But I don’t really see it changing anything for the Big 12 freshman of the year.
Let me put it this way: Before I heard about Bridges, I thought there was a 0.0 percent chance that Jackson would return to Kansas. Now that I know about Bridges’ upcoming announcement, I’ve moved my thinking about a possible Jackson return to 0.5 percent. That’s still less than 1 percent and every inch of my brain believes Jackson is leaving.
And good for him. He’s ready. He’ll be an incredible pro and I think he’ll wind up being even better in the NBA than Andrew Wiggins already is. He may never be the scorer that Wiggins is — although I wouldn’t rule it out — but I think he’ll be a much, much better all-around player and he’ll be in position to make a big time impact on whatever team is lucky enough to land him as soon as next season.
For the selfish side of getting to cover and watch Jackson play for one more season, and for the incredible story side of covering the guy who, like Tim Duncan 20 years ago, would be turning down an opportunity to be a Top 3 pick and all of that money for another season of college basketball, I’d love for Jackson to return.
But I haven’t spent even a total of one minute thinking it was going to happen and I don’t think those close to him have either. Remember, KU coach Bill Self has said repeatedly, both recently and as far back as last fall, that Jackson's a one-year guy and that he's not holding his breath for him to return. That's not a coach guarding his heart. That's a coach being realistic.
Bridges news or not, Jackson’s turning pro and the delay in his announcement, which has contributed to the sliver of hope that KU fans still have for him to shock the world, is merely circumstantial. He’s in no hurry. Nor does he need to be. He’ll announce it when he’s ready, just like he’ll be turning pro when he’s ready.