By LARRY VAUGHT
Because he had not seen Kentucky signee Isaiah Jackson play in person like he had most of this year’s top college basketball recruits, Aaron Torres of Fox Sports took time recently to study film of the 6-9 Jackson.
“I’ve seen BJ Boston multiple times, Devin Askew multiple times, Terrence Clarke, on and on. So I just wanted to pull up a little tape to better familiarize myself with his game — and wow was I was impressed,” Torres said. “He isn’t super skilled, but has the athleticism of few high school big guys I can remember.
“And on the surface it appears as though he plays really hard. Elite athleticism, high motor and intensity is a hard package to come by.”
Jackson played his senior season at Waterford Mott High School in Michigan and had a triple double — 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks — in his final home game to help his team win its conference title.
He finished the season averaging 19.7 points, 13 rebounds, 7.7 blocks, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
“Isaiah is a guy that has tremendous energy on both ends of the court. He seeks the ball and should be a great rebounder for us and also should be able to really protect the rim,” Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus said. “We have to take advance of his speed and athleticism. It can start with him grabbing boards and flying out in transition.
“We are going to have guys that are versatile next year. Isaiah is tall, but he is a guy that can move around offensively. What is frustrating for Cal (John Calipari) right now is that we normally get guys here in the summer and try to figure out what they can do best. It’s really more about what they cannot do more than what they can do so he can blend the team together. But we all know Isaiah can do a lot of things.”
If Wake Forest transfer Oliver Sarr is eligible next season, he will certainly be the starting center. But if the 7-footer is not given a waiver by the NCAA, then Jackson likely could play a lot of center in a smaller lineup.
“If Sarr is not eligible, it is hard to see Kentucky reaching their potential. The only saving grace is that fans have wanted John Calipari to ‘embrace small ball’ for years, and he might have no choice with Isaiah Jackson at the five, Keion Brooks, BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke and one of the guards — Devin Askew/Davion Mintz — at the point guard,” Torres said. “That isn’t ideal though. We’ll see if Sarr can get eligible — it is one of the biggest questions in all of college hoops this off-season.”