Isaiah Jackson is going to test the NBA Draft waters, in a move that comes as no surprise to anyone following Kentucky Basketball this year.
Jackson was a bright spot in a dim year, surpassing preseason expectations to become arguably the best player on the team. While he still showed plenty of room to grow offensively (averaging about 8 points per game), Jackson’s presence on defense was well-known.
He put forth one of the best shot-blocking seasons since the days of Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, blocking 65 shots in 25 games while averaging just shy of 21 minutes per game. That 2.6 blocks/game average was the best in the SEC and 15th in the country.
Not to mention that Jackson was the team’s second-leading rebounder behind Keion Brooks, who had a slight edge because of a lower number of games.
All that to say, Jackson showed a lot of NBA potential during his one year in Lexington, and it seems that he wants to explore his professional options.
His father, Wes, told Cats Pause that Jackson will enter his name in the draft but retain the ability to return to college. Wes said Isaiah came to Kentucky expecting to be at least a two-year player, but now that he is being projected as a likely lottery pick, the option needs to be explored.
“We came into this thinking 2-3 years not knowing he would flourish so when people are talking lottery pick, you have to consider it,” Wes told Chris Fisher of Cats Pause.
Jackson is considered a top 10 prospect in ESPN’s Draft rankings, while others like The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie projects him to fall just outside the lottery at 17.
While the spot differs, most of the projections place him between 10-20 in the draft as a secure first-rounder, which is hard to pass up.
It’d be great to see Jackson back in Lexington next year, but passing up on a guaranteed first-round selection is hard to do. I’d be willing to guess his time at Kentucky is over and he’ll be hearing his name called on draft night.
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