By LARRY VAUGHT
Waterford Mott (Mich.) High School coach David McGlown had Isaiah Jackson concentrate on his “all-around game” all last season to get ready for playing Kentucky.
“I knew he could dominate here doing the same things he always has. My challenge to him was to shoot four or five 3’s a game to expand his offensive game and let people know he was not just a post-you-up, defensive player,” McGlown said. “I think he proved what he could do and let people know he is not just a back to the basketball offensive player and defensive rim guy. He’s got some offensive skills, too.”
Jackson, who transferred to Waterford Mott for his senior season, has enough skills that Rivals.com writer Dan McDonald, program director at LakePoint Hoops, thinks he is the most underrated post player in the 2020 recruiting class.
“I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised if he ends up being the best post player in the class when all is said and done,” McDonald said. “He’s not somebody I’ve seen a ton of, but I’ve really liked him the few times I have watched him. He’s long and athletic and plays super hard. He has good hands and finishes well. He’s productive.
“I think those are all traits that will help him get on the floor early for Kentucky and make an impact. He does need to get better offensively as far as adding more polish to his post-up game and just overall skill.”
McGlown believes his star’s future ceiling is extremely high, too.
“If he gets confident in his outside game go with what already has he will be a NBA player in two years,” McGlown said before the season started. “I don’t mean a guy going in the second round, either. I mean a top 15 pick.
“I still feel the same way, maybe even more,” McGlown said. “As I got to see him more and he showed flashes of things he could do, I knew for sure this guy will be a pro and a good one as long as he keeps that work ethic he has now. He will get plenty of extra work with Kentucky and I truly believe the sky is the limit for him.”
Jackson is only ranked from 26th to 32nd by the top national recruiting services, a ranking that McGlown does not understand.
“I just feel like whoever does that ranking has not really watched him that much,” McGlown said. “He has played well and apparently some others have not seen the different things from him that I have seen. They have not seen the way he can hit a jump shot or his drop step or just the way he can dunk. I saw his progress this season and I am more in awe of him now that I have been around him.”
If Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr is not ruled eligible by the NCAA, Jackson could be UK’s only real option at center — a role McGlown says he will fill if needed.
“He can play inside with no problems if needed,” McGlown said. “He’s not thick but he’s not soft or timid when he gets the ball down low. He plays stronger and bigger than what he is. He will put on more strength and weight when he gets there and he can easily do that. He’s also like a deer when it comes to running up and down the court. He has an unusual set of skills already.”