INDIANAPOLIS — Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson is emerging as one of the premier guards in the country, but he’s also dealing with a unique development in his recruitment. The native of Utah will be one of the more college-ready guards in his class when he arrives on campus. Except Jackson won’t enter college basketball until 2018 after taking a two-year mission trip as part of his LDS faith.
“There will be better long-term prospects in 2018, but nobody will be more ready for college basketball in that class than Frank Jackson,” one college assistant told NBCSports.com in Indianapolis.
Jackson is playing with the Utah Prospects in the adidas Gauntlet this spring and recently cut his list to 10 schools. The 6-foot-2 guard is taking hard looks at Arizona, BYU, Duke, Embry-Riddle, Maryland, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA and Utah.
A former BYU commit, Jackson is keeping Division II Embry-Riddle on his list because his father, Al, played there in college. As the No. 31 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, according to Rivals, Jackson has his pick of schools and they’re especially interested because he’ll get two more years after high school to further develop his game.
“I bring it up to them and they all say that that’s fine,” Jackson said of his two-year mission plan. “All of them have agreed to let me go on a mission and come back to play in 2018.”
Jackson is intent on taking the mission trip and he’s been planning on doing so since he was a kid. He’s also spent time speaking to other college basketball players who have taken similar two-year trips and come back as better players before entering college. When he was committed to BYU, Jackson would speak with players in the program about going on a mission and how it prepared them for the next level.
“So I live probably 15 minutes from the BYU campus. I’ve played with those guys; I’ve talked to them,” Jackson said. “Tyler Haws, I know him very well. You can see that he went on a mission and came back better than ever. I definitely have talked to guys about it.”
Jackson is probably ready for college basketball as early as his high school graduation year in 2016, but he wants to come in and make a big impact when he sets foot on a campus. Haws just recently completed his career at BYU, where he finished No. 20 all-time in career points scored at the Division I level. The mission trip for Haws clearly helped him prepare to contribute from the first game he played and Jackson is hoping for similar results. A self-described combo guard, Jackson can get rolling as a scorer or set up teammates. But he wants to further develop his complete game during the mission trip.
“It’s nice because you get more time to work on your game,” Jackson said. “The two years that I’m gone, I’ll get to work out on my mission. I’ll come back as a 20-year-old freshman. Which, in my mind, that’s pretty nice.”
While he’s not planning on playing college basketball until 2018, Jackson is still taking the recruiting process very seriously in the short term. He told NBCSports.com that he’s looking to visit Arizona and Duke in June and he’ll likely commit before taking the mission trip.