Jackson is Nation’s Top Freshman Guard
By TJ Kelley
Potential, production, 6’6”, point guard, shooting guard, small forward, athleticism, tough, rebounding, off-balance, mid-range, perimeter…the list of words and phrases can go on and on when discussing the nation’s top freshman guard, Josh Jackson.
Too many times the word if is wrapped around the scenario of players who haven’t played a little more than two months of high school basketball. Heck, the word if is used with high school seniors and even college players. If, is a great meeting word when describing basketball players that will let someone off the hook if they’re wrong or make someone look like a genius if they’re right.
Josh Jackson is a 6’6” guard who plays everywhere but the center position for Detroit Consortium Preparatory Academy. His head coach, Al Anderson, simply uses the word “Special” when describing the versatile freshman. Anderson says, “He’s the best I’ve coached and I’ve had Brandon Cotton (McDonalds’ All-American) and Durrell Summers but his total package and IQ, hands down (the best).” His 21 point, eight rebound, six rebound, and three block per game averages speak for themselves and he does it against top competition as he did on Tuesday night with 23 points amongst nine rebounds, three assists, and five blocked shots in a 66-59 loss to senior laden and the #2 team in Michigan, Romulus.
In late December at the Motor City Roundball Classic and less than a month into the season, he put up 14 points with four rebounds and five assists in a 63-60 win over Chicago Hyde Park. Two weeks prior, he scored 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, two blocked shots, two assists, and two steals in a 74-73 loss to nationally ranked (USA Today #) and the state’s top team, Detroit Pershing.
There’s no doubt he can put up numbers but it’s the timing of tip dunks, off the ground quickness to block shots, pulling up for three-pointers, off balance mid-range jumpers, hitting teammates for easy buckets, the will to take charge when points are needed, his near seven-foot wing span, and basketball IQ that make up the intangibles of a “special” player.
This fall as college coaches took in Consortium’s open gyms, Jackson would immediately catch their eye and for first time onlookers the question was always the same, “Who is that?” If the answer wasn’t, “Josh Jackson” it was, “The freshman.” Nine out of ten times an explicative word followed. In the Motor City Roundball, Chicago Orr’s game followed the Consortium-Hyde Park and an Orr assistant simply nodded his head in approval.
After December, a well-known Detroit high school coach made mention of Jackson’s abilities in the same category as two of Michigan’s best over the last 25 years, Chris Webber and Derrick Coleman. There was no comparison to the two-standout power forwards as they both played different positions but the ability in Jackson is the same as it was in those past NBA lottery picks when they were freshman.
There is no over blown hype when talking about this freshman and as fragile it is to speak about freshmen in Jackson’s case the ifs are few and far between. The production is there and yes the natural things should come about as he matures mentally and physically, and he has a solid support group that make sure he stays on top of his studies. His mother attends every game and if you’re looking for the over zealous parent in the stands you’ll look right past her as she cheers for Consortium as well as her son. Consortium is far from a one-player show as UTEP bound Vince Hunter’s ceiling is as high as any senior while juniors Lito Booth, Kenneth Turner, and Malik Dawson will more than likely have the opportunity to play college hoops as well.
The only limits on Consortium’s schedule are the 20-regular season games and 300-mile rule (Michigan teams cannot participate in events that involve teams further than 300-miles from their high school) as imposed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. However, Anderson’s schedule isn’t contained by a conference schedule as they choose to play as many of the best teams in the state. The Cougars’ record is 9-3 with their third loss coming on the road to Evansville Harrison (IN.). They’ll look for the school’s first Class C championship and more than likely will have to get by their nemesis and defending state champion, Flint Beecher.
This past Friday he scored 30 points in a road win over last year’s Class A quarterfinalist, L’Anse Creuse North. Tonight starts a string of home games starting with Lansing Waverly, perennial power Dayton Dunbar on Saturday the 16th, a talented Dearborn Heights Robichaud team on Tuesday the 19th, go across state to battle Paw-Paw the following Saturday with a return home for two tough games to wrap up the season vs. Detroit Community on the 26th and Detroit E. English Village on March 1st. In other words, fans wanting to see Consortium sooner than later will solidify the difference between freshman potential and freshman production.
Follow TJ Kelley on Twitter @scoopIPS
Highlights are courtesy of Prep Hoops TV and City League Hoops TV