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‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #15 Justin Jackson

BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2017-’18 season.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2017-’18 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

As we reveal our 11th player in our top-25 rankings, we are met with another Maryland Terrapin. Justin Jackson comes in at our 15 slot, joining teammates Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan on our list. Surely Mark Turgeon is pleased to see three of his players in our top-25.

‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #15 Justin Jackson:

  • Eligibility: Sophomore
  • Career Totals: 33 games, 919 minutes, 347 points, 199 rebounds, 31 assists, 29 steals
  • 2016-’17 Averages: 27.8 minutes, 10.5 points, 6 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.9 steals
  • Positional Role: Power/Small Forward

The Terps entered last season with a No. 25 ranking. They peaked at number 17 in the polls and were good enough to score a six seed in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland did suffer some bad losses last year with three of their six Big Ten losses coming to Nebraska, Penn State, and Iowa. Both the Huskers and Nittany Lions were tied for second to last in the conference while Iowa finished in the middle of the pack.

It was an upstart Northwestern team that ended their conference season in the Big Ten tournament. Elite Eight team Xavier stunned them six days later in the NCAA Tournament.

Player Strengths

Versatility has to be the primary strength of Jackson. Despite being only 6-foot-7, Jackson mainly played at the power forward spot in 2016-’17. By trade, he is a small forward, and has ideal size for that position. None the less, he was played as an undersized power forward due to the presence of Anthony Cowan and Melo Trimble.

Jackson thrived in that role though, and it is unclear where he’ll play this season, now that Trimble is gone. He has slasher skills, with the ability to drive to the basket and finish. Jackson can also shoot the three quite efficiently for a “power forward”. He attempted a little over three long range shots per game and he made roughly 44 percent of them last year. That high mark was good for tops on Maryland’s roster in 2016-’17.

His footwork in the paint is also incredibly advanced for a player trained as a wing. Jackson holds the ability of backing down defenders and putting a solid post move on his man. Wherever he is placed position wise in 2017-’18, Jackson will thrive due to his versatile game.

Areas for Improvement

While Jackson’s length and diverse skillset are impressive, he still has some room to grow. Specifically, he could take his handle to the next level and needs to improve when matched up against smaller forwards. Those kind of improvements will take him to the next level.

Jackson could also improve his consistency close to the rim. He only shot 44.3 percent from two-point range last season, which is underwhelming for a player with his skillset. Jackson also shot an unimpressive 70.2 percent from the free throw line. Taking a step forward in these areas would go a long way.

Player Projection

Regardless of his ‘athletic’ ability, Jackson, in my view, is the best player on Maryland’s roster. I foresee him as the primary offensive contributor for the Terps regardless of where Mark Turgeon puts him on the floor. On top of all that, he has the makings of an extremely intriguing NBA prospect come the 2018 Draft. For now, plan on seeing an especially majestic 2017-’18 campaign from Justin Jackson.

‘BT Powerhouse 25’ Rankings: