The Wolverine

December 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 53   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan head coach John Beilein is very selective when it comes to giving out offers, and that was evi- dent again this year when he waited until September to finally give out his first one in the class of 2020. To- ledo (Ohio) Maumee Valley Country Day point guard Zeb Jackson was the recipient, and the 6-3 standout —'s No. 72 junior nationally — didn't wait long to jump on it. Jackson called the offer a "huge blessing" and said Michigan was "definitely up there" after a Septem- ber visit. He was back a week later to see more, and he pledged Oct. 23 over offers from Ohio State, Michi- gan State and others. "The biggest difference was I al- ways feel like I'm home whenever I'm there, and it just felt right," Jackson said. "I chose to commit early because I could just feel it was the right place, and now I also have plenty of time to learn the system and prepare myself all around before that time comes." Jackson averaged 19.5 points per game last year, but that doesn't begin to tell the story of his future impact, national recruiting ana- lyst Corey Evans said. "I've seen him play seven or eight times. It's more about what he could be," Evans said. "We use the term 'basketball ceiling' — he's far from reaching his. In fact, you have this guy kind of growing incrementally a couple inches every four or five months, he's 6-3 now, has long arms, a great feel and pace and understands the game, plays it the right way. "He can make shots, be a play- maker and fit in John Beilein's system where it's multi-positional ball play." Beilein prefers to call it "position- less" basketball. Either way, Jackson is the right guy at the right time. He can play as the point guard or off the ball, and while he's more of a scoring point guard right now, he's got the potential to be a standout at a few positions. "I think he can become more of a facilitating point guard type," Ev- ans said. "When he comes in, when [junior point guard] Zavier Simp- son leaves, will he be ready for that? Maybe not right away. "I'm not sure he's that floor-set- ting type of guard, but he plays with great pace and feel for game, so he can become that." Jackson has known Simpson for several years, and he's played AAU ball for Simpson's dad, Quincy, since he was 7 years old, last summer with the C2K Elite Program. His basket- ball IQ and ability to play either guard position are his strengths, the elder Simpson said, noting he comes from a great family. "He is very heady and smart," Simpson said. "His parents have done a tremendous job with him." Maumee Valley Country Day basketball coach Rob Conover has coached Jackson for two years. He still marvels at his player's willing- ness to work. "It's rare to see that level of work ethic from a kid his age," Conover said. "He spends hours in the gym trying to perfect his skill. It's going to be a great fit." Jackson is only eight points short of 1,000 career points entering his junior year. He can score — he once put up 49 points in a game as a freshman — but there's much more to his game. "He's very, very good off the bounce, really knows what spots on the floor to attack," Evans said. "He loves the left elbow region, knows how to get there. He's not a super explosive athlete, but more of a great change of pace guy that understands how to play the angles well, and he's pretty good in the ball screen too." Jackson shot 39 percent from three- point range during this past AAU season, and Conover believes Jack- son is one track to hit in the 40s by the time he's done with his high school career. He can't wait to see what Jackson becomes. "I believe without a doubt he's one of the top players in the coun- try," Conover said. "I think he's al- ready proven that. But I think there's a whole other category he can go into. "The reason I say that is I watch him, and I watch him work. I see him in the gym. If he has weaknesses, he owns them, and he'll go about working them and attacking them. I think his ceiling is off the charts. We've heard a lot that he's got NBA potential." — Chris Balas Four-Star Point Guard Zeb Jackson Follows His Friend To U-M ranks Jackson as the No. 16 point guard and No. 72 overall prospect in the country. PHOTO BY JORDAN WELLS national recruiting analyst Corey Evans "We use the term 'basketball ceiling' — he's far from reach- ing his. … He can make shots, be a playmaker and fit in John Beilein's system where it's multi-positional ball play." FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Zeb Jackson is a step ahead on the court and has a great handle. He's strong with both hands, has a nice mid-range game and an improving three-point shot. Areas Of Improvement: Jackson continues to grow and fill out, but he's slender. He's 165 pounds now and will need to add weight before he gets to college — and to con- tinue improve his three-point shot. Michigan Player Comparison: U-M hasn't seen many like Jackson. In fact, some veterans say you'd have to go back to the 1970s and a guy like Dave Baxter to find an apt comparison. He's truly unique. — Analysis from

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