Basketball season will be here before we know it. While the official season start date was moved back to November 25, teams all over the nation are already practicing and preparing for the most wonderful time of the year.
Here at Arkansas Fight, Ryan Bolding and myself will preview a different player each week and what to expect this season. Next up is Vance Jackson Jr.
#2 Vance Jackson Jr. – GR.SR. 6-9 238
Basketball has taken Vance Jackson Jr. all over the country. From California to Connecticut to New Mexico and now to Arkansas. Jackson was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school when he committed to UCONN. Jackson started 21 games for the Huskies as a freshman, averaged 8.1 points per game, and shot a league best 48.4% from 3 point range in conference games. Jackson then transferred to New Mexico where he started 44 games in 2 years. With the Lobos, Jackson averaged 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.
Now Jackson ends up in Fayetteville with the Razorbacks. Eric Musselman continues to be a wizard of the transfer market by bringing in the talented Jackson. They faced each other two times in the Mountain West Conference. New Mexico won game won 85-58 where Jackson had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. In game 2, Nevada won in blowout fashion and Jackson had just 5 points.
Jackson is a very versatile player. He can score from all 3 levels and facilitate for others. He has so much Mason Jones in his game. I think his passing ability may be the most underrated part of his game. He is a constant mismatch on the floor. His size allows him to shoot over small defenders from anywhere, but his quickness makes it difficult for big men to guard him on the perimeter. In the pace and space philosophy that Eric Musselman employs, Jackson will get a lot of opportunities. You don’t want to be left on an island trying to guard Jackson, but many defenders will put in that situation this year.
Where Arkansas may need more from him is on the boards. He has averaged 5.4 rebounds for his career. Which is nothing to scoff at, but the Hogs may need more. I believe Musselman will use him at the 5 many time this year, but we could see him at the 3 as well. The roster is incredibly versatile at Arkansas and Jackson is a huge part of that.
I think he is a day 1, guaranteed starter for this team. I’ll go a step further and say that I wouldn’t be surprised if he led the Razorbacks in scoring this year.
This team will be fun to watch and Vance Jackson Jr. will be a big reason why.
As always, for the latest on all things Arkansas basketball, give me a follow on Twitter @HawgHoops.