Michigan State's Jaren Jackson is a likely top 10 pick. However, not everyone is sold on the talented center being a one-and-done.
Jackson just finished up a strong season for Michigan State, though it didn't finish the way Spartan fans would hope. He was largely a non-factor in MSU's second round loss to Syracuse.
In that upset loss, he scored just two points, going 0-for-4 from the field. Tom Izzo only played him 15 minutes, down from the nearly 22 minutes per game he averaged.
Jackson scored 10.9 points and grabbed 5.8 rebounds per night. He recorded three blocks per game, and shot 39.6-percent from three and over 51-percent from the field and 79.7-percent from the free throw line, giving him a rare, extremely valuable skill set.
Still, one game doesn't decide a player's NBA value. At 7-feet tall, with elite rim protection and range out beyond the three-point arc, some like Jackson as one of the most complete players in the class.
Lansing State Journalwriter Graham Couch thinks it's 50/50 right now, whether Jackson stays or goes. From his column:
Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., on the other hand, he can come back. And I think he might. What I once thought to be slim chance, perhaps 10%, feels 50-50 now. People closer to the situation than I am are optimistic, though also unsure. He is not expected to make — or at least announce — a decision until after this weekend.
Given his NBA Draft stock, Jaren Jackson would surprise most of us.
However, there is very recent precedent for a star freshman returning to Michigan State and turning down the allure of the NBA for a year. Just last year, Miles Bridges did just that in hopes to make a national title run.
Bridges is now off to the NBA after a sophomore season in East Lansing. Time will tell if Jackson will join him. After the Syracuse loss, he said the NBA decision "hasn't crossed (his) mind":
Tom Izzo weighed in on Bridges and Jackson as well, after the loss. He previously said that Jackson could be the best freshman he's had at Michigan State:
“Miles kind of taught me and said it best. He said, ‘Coach, I don’t want to go. It’s my decision.’ He didn’t worry about anybody else’s decision. It was his decision, and I think he’ll tell Jaren that or he’ll tell me that or anybody else that’s looking to leave or looking to make a tough decision. Do what’s best for you and that’s it, because you have to be happy,” Izzo told reporters.
Couch notes that Jackson may not have the same pressing need for an immediate NBA career that other top players do, for financial reasons:
Unlike many high-level prospects, though, Jackson’s family isn’t waiting on the money. His father played parts of 12 seasons in the NBA. His mother is the director of operations of the WNBA Players Association. Whatever advice Jackson is getting, it’s probably good advice. It’s coming from a place of first-hand knowledge.
The vast majority of players in Jackson's position leave. Bridges is the exception, though Sparty fans definitely hope they get lucky two years in a row.