Star Kentucky recruit Ian Jackson set for visit to UNC
One of the biggest recruitments in college basketball could soon be reaching an end, and the Kentucky Wildcats are positioned well to get their player.
Ian Jackson — a shooting guard from New York City that is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 2 player in the class of 2024 — has recently hinted that he may be nearing a college decision.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Jackson is known as a versatile scorer with an emerging three-point shot and a crafty package of finishes around the rim, while being able to fill passing lanes as a dependable team defender.
So far, he’s taken three official visits: to Kentucky (for Big Blue Madness last October), Oregon (also in October) and LSU (in November).
A fourth official visit for Jackson will come this weekend, when he visits North Carolina on Friday, a day before the Tar Heels are set to play Notre Dame at home.
While it’s always worthwhile to monitor the recruitment of a talented player like Jackson, particular attention has been focused on his recruitment in recent weeks.
In early December, Jackson told Joe Tipton of On3 that he would soon have a college decision.
“I kind of want to get it out of the way,” Jackson said. “Right now I’m enjoying the process, but soon I’ll make a decision.”
Only a few weeks after that, Jackson reaffirmed to Rob Cassidy of Rivals that he intends to commit “pretty soon.”
Jackson also said that he would probably take more recruiting visits, listing Arkansas and Texas as possibilities.
While this may be his intention, Kentucky and North Carolina — as they have been for a while — are still considered the frontrunners in Jackson’s recruitment.
UK head coach John Calipari and associate coach Orlando Antigua represent UK’s main recruiting contacts with Jackson.
Both men watched Jackson play last month in New York City, the day after Kentucky played at Madison Square Garden in the CBS Sports Classic.
It’s also worth noting that at least one 247Sports crystal ball prediction has been logged for Jackson to Kentucky.
Should Jackson opt to go to North Carolina, he would be joined by another UNC class of 2024 backcourt commit in top-ranked point guard Elliot Cadeau, who recently picked the Tar Heels over Louisville, among other schools.
Jackson could join the 2023 recruiting class
Adding extra intrigue to Jackson’s recruitment is the significant reclassification buzz that surrounds him.
Jackson has long been considered a candidate to move from the class of 2024 to the class of 2023.
His recent answers on this subject have mirrored what he told the Herald-Leader in August: He hasn’t decided whether to reclassify up a year or not yet, and he will probably make that decision after his junior season of high school basketball ends.
What would this mean for Kentucky?
The Wildcats already have a 2023 recruiting class that is considered the toast of college basketball.
The top-ranked recruiting class includes five players, all of whom are ranked among the top 29 players in the 247Sports Composite.
▪ DJ Wagner (combo guard: No. 1)
▪ Justin Edwards (small forward: No. 2)
▪ Aaron Bradshaw (center: No. 6)
▪ Robert Dillingham (point guard: No. 9)
▪ Reed Sheppard (combo guard: No. 29)
This historically good recruiting class would enter stratospheric levels with the addition of Jackson.
The next natural question to ask is will the Wildcats have room on their roster for the addition of six star freshmen next season?
Expected and potential departures from this season’s Kentucky team include Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe in the front court and CJ Fredrick, Antonio Reeves, Cason Wallace and Sahvir Wheeler in the backcourt.
Toss in the fact that things haven’t gone great for Kentucky so far this season with the most experienced team of the Calipari-era on the court, and a return to a younger roster full of five-star recruits doesn’t seem like the worst plan of action.
As far as the question of whether or not Jackson is ready for a move from the 2024 to 2023 class, the universal answer appears to be yes, if he feels that’s the right decision.
“I think just on pure ability he’s someone that can come in as a ‘23 and play right away,” Human yearsthe director of 5-State Hoop Report and someone who recently watched Jackson play, told the Herald-Leader. “Obviously just getting stronger, getting in a strength and conditioning program and getting in early. … He’s talented enough.”
Cameron Drummond works as a sports reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader with a focus on Kentucky men’s basketball recruiting and the UK men’s basketball team, horse racing, soccer and other sports in Central Kentucky. Drummond is a first-generation American who was born and raised in Texas, before graduating from Indiana University. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who previously worked as a community news reporter in Austin, Texas.