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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mission Accomplished: KU’s Josh Jackson makes most of summer, ready for next step

Red Team guard Devonte' Graham has his dunk stuffed at the rim by Blue Team guard Josh Jackson on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at the Horejsi Athletic Center.

Red Team guard Devonte' Graham has his dunk stuffed at the rim by Blue Team guard Josh Jackson on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at the Horejsi Athletic Center.

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Despite meetings with Magic Johnson and Michigan State and overtures from Arizona and other college basketball powerhouses, freshman forward Josh Jackson chose to play his college ball at Kansas.

The reasons were many and ranged from KU’s storied tradition and proven track record of developing NBA players to the style of coaching he expected to get from Bill Self.

With summer school behind him, the fall semester in full swing and the official start of the 2016-17 season a little more than a month out, Jackson already has been able to get feedback on several of the factors that influenced him to pick Kansas in early April. So far, Jackson’s KU experience has lived up to what he visualized all those months ago.

“Everything and more,” Jackson told the Journal-World between photo shoots at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday afternoon. “I love it here. It’s a great place to be.... It’s starting to feel like home.”

The 2016 recruiting class’ No. 1 ranked player comes to Kansas with more than a little hype. Scrutinized and analyzed to the Nth degree in every aspect of his game for the past few years, the long and lean freshman from Detroit knows the spotlight is fixed on him. But, so far at least, he has proven to be one cool customer in the face of such potential stress.

“There’s always gonna be a little bit of being nervous when a guy comes in with so much pressure on him,” Jackson admitted. “But I really trust my teammates and I believe in ’em and I trust myself and I think that we’re gonna have a really good team this year.

“My main focus is winning. And I know as long as we’re winning games I don’t have anything to worry about.”

In town throughout the summer to take classes, play pick-up games and connect with his new teammates, Jackson took full advantage of every opportunity.

But the one area that Jackson may have exceeded even his own expectations was in the weight room, where he added 14 pounds to his 6-foot-8 frame just this summer.

Jackson arrived in Lawrence at 187 pounds. He currently weighs 201. And he isn’t planning on stopping there.

“Probably about 8-10 more pounds,” he said before adding, “It’s been huge (to be here in the summer). I feel like I built a couple bonds and relationships with a couple of teammates and definitely got better and gained a few pounds. That’s what I was really looking for out of the summer, so mission accomplished.”

With the summer portion of what is likely to be his lone year of college out of the way, Jackson is starting to feel the buzz that precedes the arrival of every college basketball season. Despite all of the hype and accolades that have accompanied him wherever he has gone, at his core Jackson is still just a young man who loves to play ball.

“For so many years growing up, I’ve just been watching college basketball on TV and rooting for different teams every year and it just feels good to finally be here and have an opportunity to play myself,” he said.

It won’t count for real, of course, until the regular season kicks off in early November, but Jackson said he could tell what’s coming based on the way the vibe within the program changed earlier this week, when classes started and the Jayhawks had their first team meeting of the season.

“It definitely feels different,” Jackson said. “But I think it’s a little too early for me to really say that because I know things are going to change even more pretty soon. In about a couple months, it probably will be the most difficult and important season I’ve ever had.”

Comments

Mallory Briggans 6 years, 1 month ago

I think Josh is more than ready for the next step......Mentally and physically......He understands the game and i cant wait to see him on the court....

Dale Rogers 6 years, 1 month ago

I like his attitude. Here is a kid who has had all those people and the media telling him how good he is, yet he knows he has more to learn and how to go about getting that. Great future ahead for this one!

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 1 month ago

Jackson's most significant contribution would be most felt in transition and on the defensive end of the court. With our veteran lineup and his not-so-good 3-ball, I have a hard time seeing him contribution much from our offensive sets.

Thinking back on Wiggins vs Jackson, I'm more impressed with Wiggins...given the abilities, at that time, of the other guys in the rotation. Jackson't going to need to hit the court running because the rest of the guys won't feel the need to wait on him to contribute.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 1 month ago

How impressive is it that he's already put on 14 lbs. in the weight room? Usually it takes a lot longer for someone to get Hudy-ized.

Mallory Briggans 6 years, 1 month ago

wanting to play defense is a mindset that Josh seems to have.....as we all know HCBS emphasizes defense....

Mallory Briggans 6 years, 1 month ago

off topic.......has there been any word on how Coleby is recovering.....he is the forgotten man these days...

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 1 month ago

This kid is gonna be special. His drive, his attitude, abd his passion are unparalleled for a OAD kid at KU. JJ will be the best OAD Self has landed so far.

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