When you think of the word ‘athlete’ in the 2023 NBA Draft, there's one name you shouldn't forget to mention: Andre Jackson Jr.
The UConn guard is full of athleticism and knows how to use it, which makes him a good prospect coming into the draft — if that's what you're looking for.
Jackson is a natural at slashing to the rim and did it at a high clip as a Husky. He shot 67% at the rim, as he's dangerous in the open floor and on the fast break. Due to his lack of shooting, defenders would sag off of him, but that didn’t matter to him. He still found a way to make things happen with the ball in his hands.
To add to his athleticism and slashing, Jackson is good at reading the floor. If he sees a hole in the opposing team’s defense while he's off the ball, he cuts to the rim or runs baseline to get an easy shot at the rim. Don’t expect to block his shot either, because he's an excellent dunker. Jackson just knows how to make the right plays, and that includes his passing.
Even though Jackson knows how to make things happen for himself with the ball, he also knows how to get his teammates involved. He averaged 4.7 assists and played a key role in being a playmaker for UConn. Jackson knows how to find the roller in the pick-and-roll and can make the skip pass to the corner for an open three. As his basketball IQ continues to develop, he could become a secondary playmaker on the court, which could open up a lot for teams on offense.
A struggle for Jackson on offense is his shooting ability, and there hasn't been much improvement in that area for him, as he only averaged 6.7 points in his last season at UConn. The mechanics of his shot need to stay clean and consistent, and at times you can see he can be hesitant with shooting. That's something that opposing teams will take advantage of, which doesn't leave him as much of a threat on the court if he’s not used right. If his catch-and-shoot numbers could improve when transitioning to the pros, his impact on the court could increase, especially with playmaking and basketball IQ already being good.
Defense is another thing that Jackson excels at, and he has the ability to guard 1 through 4. At 6’6” and 210-lbs., he has the lateral quickness to stay with guards, and the length to guard wings with power. His point-of-attack defense is a key part of his game, and he’s able to recover quickly to contest a shot if need be. Of course with his athleticism, blocking shots isn't hard for the guard either.
Jackson will probably be around in the second round of the draft, and if a team is looking for someone with upside as a defender, he can be a good pick. He wouldn’t be a bad pick for the Hawks as they need someone that is a solid point-of-attack defender, but they also need someone that can make shots as well.