During the course of the year I really came to be a big fan of Justin Jackson and the way that he played the game. I branded him the Wildebeest. I made a terrible photoshop. I basically fell head over heels for the way that the kid played the game of Basketball. If nothing else Jackson became a one man advocate for the value of plus/minus. The stats this year weren't all that great, and that is not particularly surprising. Jackson didn't come to Clifton blessed with an advanced offensive game. He was a decently productive guy in high school. But most of that production came from a combination of superior athletic ability and great instincts. So while Jack had Big East athletic ability from the moment he stepped on the floor, the finer points of the game would take time to master. Here are his complete offensive stats from this year.
So the stats weren't great, Jackson's free throw shooting in particular stood out as pretty appalling, even though he played with a team full of absolutely dreadful free throw shooters. All that being said Jackson made a pretty big impact on the team this year. His effort and energy were the heart and soul of a reinvigorated bench. Most of what he did can't be accurately quantified or measured. There are a lot of things that can be gleaned from the multitude of advanced metrics in College Basketball. But there is still no way to accurately measure the impact of guys like Justin Jackson.
If there was a stat for possessions saved, or loose balls obtained or something in those general veins Jackson would lead the team in those categories. But those stats don't exist, yet. What does is exist are basic every day defensive statistics, and in those Jackson showed very well in 2010-11.
The most basic of takeaways from this is that for the minutes that Jackson played this past year, just 32 per cent of all the minutes played by a power forward, the Wildebeest had a big time impact on the defensive end. There were plenty of times this year where I advocated for Jackson to start over Darnell Wilks and over Ibrahima Thomas. None of the power forward options were particularly appealing offensively, but Jackson had a knack for making plays that those guys didn't make.
For me the biggest asset that Jackson had this year was his surprisingly high basketball IQ. When I watched tapes of his from high school and then caught some of the high lights from the summer league games that was not something that I expected to see from Jackson. He is an ultra athletic guy, he's very long and active those aren't traits that I would expect to see coupled to a guy who has a high basketball IQ. But he has it, he has a great understanding of the geometry of the game and can find his way to the open spots on the floor. This is most evident in his rebounding. But that same trait would also find it is uses on the offensive end of the floor. Jackson freed himself up for some nice, easy interior shots, he actually finished second on the team in effective field goal shooting at 53.4% 4 tenths off the pace of Anthony McClain. The other thing I liked to see with Jackson was that as the season wore on and he became more effective and more comfortable with the ball on offense he still stayed within himself. I am not used to seeing that from freshman, what I am used to is a little bit of confidence going a long way to bad basketball. *cough* Lance Stephenson *cough* Jackson by and large stayed within himself, he more or less stayed in his wheelhouse of the paint and seldom ventured from there.
Lets get to that free throw number which was the worst thing he did all year. It wasn't pretty, it started bad, and it didn't get a whole lot better. Here is a handy chart to illustrate just how bad a free throw shooter Jackson was this year.
Safe to say that when someones best free throw shooting performance is 50 per cent there are some pretty big issues in there somewhere. What exactly? I am not sure that even Jackson could give you an answer there. But I think that this is something that will not become a strength of his any time soon. One other thing that I like about Jackson is his passing ability, if not his decision making. I will concede that having a .667 assist to turnover ratio is a is terrible, and that is something that he has to improve big time.
All in all I think it is very safe to say that Justin Jackson is well on his way to having a great career in the Red and Black, he is already a fan favorite in Clifton.
His style of play, the effort and energy that he plays with each and every game are tailor made to be embraced by this city. After all this is city that cherishes hard work and idolizes its every guise. What else would you expect from a city that takes its name from Cincinnatus, the personification of the Roman ideal. Still Jackson has been embraced by the fans, and will continue to be so. The only real question is what kind of player does he became for the Bearcats? Everyone seems to have an opinion on this, and I am no different. I think that in the end Jackson will become a bigger, stronger Eric Hicks. He will always be a force on the boards and on the defensive end and he will make due on the offensive end.
What is your take on Justin Jackson's Freshman year? Leave your thoughts and your grade down below.
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