Kansas may have found their star for the 2016-17 season, as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, according to Rivals, has committed to play for the Jayhawks.
Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8 wing originally from Michigan that is currently playing for Prolific Prep in California, announced on Monday that he will spend his one-and-done season in Lawrence.
Jackson picked Kansas over Arizona and Michigan State and, as one of the best shooting guard prospects in recent memory, is a perfect fit for a Kansas team that just lost Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene to the professional ranks. He’s a tough, athletic wing who will provide immediate help defensively and on the glass, and he’s as competitive as anyone. He’s excellent in transition and has the explosiveness and body control to make things happen when he attacks the rim in a half court set. As he becomes a more consistent perimeter shooter he’ll only become a more dangerous player.
His addition to the Jayhawks should give them arguably the nation’s best perimeter defense, as he’ll join Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason on a team that will be a nightmare for opposing guards to deal with. With this piece, the Jayhawks move to No. 3 in the NBCSports.com preseason top 25.
The memory that this will draw for most Kansas fans is that of Andrew Wiggins, who arrived in Lawrence to much fanfare and left as the No. 1 pick after averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 boards on a team that couldn’t get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. It’s not hard to find people willing to call Wiggins a disappointment.
Jackson will be in a better spot than Wiggins, however. For starters, this is not going to be a roster dominated by freshmen. Frank Mason will be the decided leader on the Kansas roster, as he has been the last two seasons. Devonte’ Graham will play a major role as an off-guard while the Jayhawks — led by Landen Lucas, Carlton Bragg, Udoka Azubuike and Svi Mykhailiuk — will have size, depth and versatility along their front line.
Three of the top four scorers when Wiggins was a freshman were, well, freshmen. The other was sophomore Perry Ellis. The veteran leader? Naadir Tharpe, who transferred out of the program after the season.
The Jayhawks are adding a talented, super-competitive and uber-athletic 6-foot-8 shooting guard that will be one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. Only time will tell whether he ends up living up to the hype or failing to meet expectations the way Wiggins, Selden, Kelly Oubre and Ben McLemore did, but as long as Kansas fans keep their expectations in check — the second-coming of Andrew Wiggins as opposed to freshman year Kevin Durant — they’re really going to enjoy watching this kid play.