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.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Jaren Jackson of the Michigan State Spartans. Jackson is the only freshman in our top 25 rankings, which makes him the most intriguing first-year player entering the season.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - #14 Jaren Jackson
- Eligibility: Freshman
- Career Totals: N/A
- 2016-'17 stats: 16 pts, 11 rebs, six blocks at La Lumiere (IN)
- Positional Role: Power Forward
A relatively young team last season, Michigan State was 20-15 overall and made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. A good chunk of last year's roster returns this year, and the addition of Jackson adds a whole other dynamic to the squad.
At 6-foot-10 and with a wingspan of 7-foot-4, Jackson has great size for his position. His solid, sturdy frame allows him to finish down low and avoid getting bullied in the paint. Additionally, he's also very versatile and can make plays on the perimeter.
In his senior year at La Lumiere, Jackson shot 40 percent from three. His shot mechanics are unique, but he has great confidence from behind the arc, and his quick release makes him even more dangerous from outside.
Jackson also runs the floor like a guard and is tough to keep up with in transition. His leaping ability also stands out as he can finish above the rim, grab rebounds, and block shots.
Areas for Improvement
Jackson has been blessed physically, but the mental side of his game needs improvement. He tends to get very emotional on the floor, meaning, when things aren't going his ways, he gets upset. Also, he hasn’t fully developed his interior game and will need to get more physical around the rim.
Additionally, Jackson also needs to work on becoming a more consistent player on the defensive end and fully utilizing his unique skillset. He has the athleticism and size to dominate and needs to utilize those tools more often.
Although Sparty brings back almost everyone from last year's group, Jackson is expected to jump right in and play a major role from day one. With some many playmakers around him, Jackson will be able to play to his strengths and won't have to try and do too much.
Jackson and sophomore center Nick Ward will get most of the minutes in the frontcourt. Jackson is more of a faceup big man while Ward is back to the basket and makes a living in the paint. Ward's post presence gives Jackson a reason to space the floor and cause defenses to focus on one or the other.
He isn't expected to be the go-to guy on this team, but Jackson's impact will be felt this year in East Lansing. What he brings to both sides of the floor will be the difference for the Spartans. If the season goes as expected, Jackson will be the Big Ten freshman of the year and a key factor in Michigan State's success in 2017-'18.
‘BT Powerhouse 25’ Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Juwan Morgan (Indiana Hoosiers)
- #24 - Dakota Mathias (Purdue Boilermakers)
- #23 - Jordan Bohannon (Iowa Hawkeyes)
- #22 - Anthony Cowan (Maryland Terrapins)
- #21 - Reggie Lynch (Minnesota Golden Gophers)
- #20 - Kevin Huerter (Maryland Terrapins)
- #19 - Carsen Edwards (Purdue Boilermakers)
- #18 - Robert Johnson (Indiana Hoosiers)
- #17 - Isaac Haas (Purdue Boilermakers)
- #16 - Tyler Cook (Iowa Hawkeyes)
- #15 - Justin Jackson (Maryland Terrapins)
- #14 - Jaren Jackson (Michigan State Spartans)
- #13 - to be continued...