It seemed common going into the 2017-18 college basketball season to hear that Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had his most talented team he had ever coached.
Part of the reason for this wasn’t just guys bypassing the NBA Draft to stay in school for at least another year. Part of it was also because of the Spartans signing Jaren Jackson Jr, who was coming into this season as a freshman.
1. Jaren Jackson Jr. was highly regarded as a prospect coming out of high school
Jackson Jr. — according to 247Sports composite rankings — was ranked as the No. 8 player in the country as a high school prospect. He was a 5-star recruit and the top overall player coming from the state of Indiana.
Jackson Jr. played high school basketball at La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind.
2. Jaren Jackson Jr. was offered a scholarship by five other Big Ten schools
Yes, he was a highly sought-after prospect. But, six Big Ten schools altogether ended up offering Jackson Jr. a scholarship. Those six were Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Purdue.
Michigan State of course was the lucky winner, landing the top-10 recruit to join the team’s already extremely talented core of both young and old players.
3. Jaren Jackson Jr.’s dad — Jaren Jackson — is a former Georgetown and NBA player
Jackson Jr. isn’t the only extremely talented basketball player in his own family. His father, Jaren Jackson, not only played for Georgetown, but went on to play in the NBA for 12 seasons.
Jackson played for nine different teams during his NBA career.
4. Jaren Jackson Jr. is putting together an impressive season as a freshman at Michigan State
The Spartans knew they were landing a good one when Jackson Jr. decided to commit, and, his stats and showing it. In his first — and potentially last — season with the team, he is averaging 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game going into the NCAA Tournament.
Aside from the raw numbers, Jackson Jr. can show his dominance by his hardware as well. The first-year player was named as the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
5. Jaren Jackson Jr. is expected to be taken in the lottery of the 2018 NBA Draft
With his impressive first season nearly concluded, talks of Jackson Jr. at the next level have already heated up. At 6-foot-11, he is an intriguing prospect because of not only his size and length, but his shooting ability, as he has shot 52 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3-point range as a member of the Spartans.
According to CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, Jackson Jr. is going No. 9 overall to the Chicago Bulls. Alongside Parrish at CBS Sports is Reid Forgrave’s mock draft, which has the Spartans’ freshman going No. 12 overall to the Charlotte Hornets.