South Carolina landed a historic basketball commitment when five-star forward GG Jackson announced he would be committing to the Gamecocks and reclassifying to the Class of 2022. Jackson, the No. 1 player from the 2023 class according to 247Sports, becomes the highest-ranked South Carolina basketball commitment of the 247Sports era and gives new coach Lamont Paris a considerable jolt of momentum before he’s even coached a game.
Jackson is likely to be an immediate focal point for the Gamecocks in the season ahead, despite the fact that he’ll be just 17 years old for the first month of the season. At 6-foot-9 and 210 pounds, Jackson averaged 22.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game while earning South Carolina’s Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a junior at Ridge View High School, which is just 15 miles from South Carolina’s campus.
The commitment caps a whirlwind three-month stretch for Jackson, who first committed to North Carolina in late April as a member of the Class of 2023. He re-opened his recruitment on July 14, writing on social media that he wished to “explore other options.”
Jackson’s decision to stay at home and play for the Gamecocks as part of the 2022 class makes him just the latest high-profile hoops prospect to reclassify. Five-star prospects Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren made similar decisions late in last year’s recruiting cycle and joined Memphis’ roster. In this recruiting cycle, highly ranked guards Tyrese Proctor (Duke) and Kylan Boswell (Arizona) are among the big names to follow suit.
Boost for Gamecocks
For a program with a limited basketball history, Jackson’s commitment will provide a considerable spark. He is South Carolina’s highest-ranked commitment of the 247Sports era and joins a class that otherwise included the No. 179 and No. 231 players of the class.
Aside from an unlikely Final Four run as a No. 7 seed under former coach Frank Martin in 2017, South Carolina has made just one other NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. That Cinderella run five years ago marked the program’s first trip beyond the first weekend of the Big Dance since 1973.
Getting the Gamecocks to the NCAA Tournament would require a herculean effort from Jackson, but his presence on the roster will be huge for the program as Paris seeks to build a relevant program. A former longtime Wisconsin assistant, the 47-year-old Paris arrives at South Carolina after five seasons at Chattanooga. His run with the Mocs was capped by a 27-8 record and NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2021-22 season.
Landing Jackson should help answer any questions over whether Paris will be able to recruit well enough to compete in the SEC.
GG Jackson’s projection
By reclassifying and enrolling at South Carolina for the 2022-23 season, Jackson will be eligible for next year’s NBA Draft since he’ll turn 19 in the 2023 calendar year. Amid his move to the Class of 2022, Jackson will likely lose the title of “top-ranked prospect,” a designation which Arkansas freshman guard Nick Smith currently holds for the class, according to 247Sports. That’s a small price to pay for the chance at reaching the NBA a season earlier than initially expected.
Here is an excerpt of Jackson’s player evaluation from 247Sports national basketball director Eric Bossi:
“Over the last year, Jackson has made significant improvements when it comes to his skill level. He is a more than capable jump shooter, has a nice jump hook and he’s become a real threat to face up and attack off the dribble. His passing has some room for growth but he’s improved greatly when it comes to recognizing double teams and finding an open teammate. On the block he has an advantage because of his quickness and while his perimeter ability is what may allow him to create distance between himself and other big men in the class, he has to be careful not to float around out there too much. When he’s got an even mix of inside and outside to go along with what he’s able to do running the floor in transition, Jackson is a major problem on the offensive end. Defensively, he’s ahead of the curve as well. He’s got great anticipation, moves well laterally and uses his athleticism to his advantage so that he’s an above average rim protector who can also defend in space if he gets caught on a switch and has to defend a smaller player.”
As for Jackson’s 2023 NBA Draft stock, there is no guarantee he’ll be a smash hit in college basketball. As a player of similar acclaim in the same situation last year, Bates struggled as a freshman at Memphis and is transferring to Eastern Michigan for his sophomore season. Duren, his college teammate, went from being the No. 1 ranked player in the Class of 2022 to No. 5 after he reclassified to 2021. He was solid, but not overwhelming, for the Tigers and snuck into the lottery as the No. 13 overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft.
Among the other implications following Jackson’s decision will be a new No. 1 in the Top247 for 2023. DJ Wagner, who was already ranked No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite, could slide in to Jackson’s spot, but forward Justin Edwards is among a handful of others in the mix.