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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Scouting Report: Reggie Jackson

Boston College's Reggie Jackson blossomed his junior year under new head coach Steve Donahue.

After two years in Al Skinner's poorly ran flex offense, Donahue implemented a more spread out, balanced attack that emphasized motion and off ball screens. In the process, he also slowed the pace down which has helped transform star guard Reggie Jackson into more of a complete basketball player.

Last year, Reggie Jackson could get buckets. Jackson has excellent athleticism and is tough to stop once he gets going. His jumper could find the bottom of the net and he had no problem forcing shots up. This year, with a more controlled offense, he has able to show more PG skills and signs of improvement.

The problem with Jackson last season was that he often played out of control. He relied on his athleticism to get by, which worked occasionally, but not against top ACC foes and certainly not against NBA athletes. He changed this year, showing the ability to change speeds and alternate from scorer to distributor.

Jackson fit much more into the team concept this year, helping his team to a surprising good season, just barely missing the NCAA tournament. He didn't have full PG duties, as Boston College needed his scoring more than anything, but he had the ball in his hands more than enough to get a sense of his playmaking abilities. In fact, Jackson tends to dribble the shot clock out too much, forcing himself into some tough shots. Overall, though, he does a good job keeping his head up while dribbling and his size allows him to see the court well. He has lots of promise as an NBA PG. He is far from a boll hog, and even tends to pass off a drive a little too much. For his athleticism, it is very disappointing that he only for 4.9 FTAs a game. Often times once he gets into the lane, he chooses not to go for the layup and instead kicks the ball back out. At the next level, he will need to get stronger in order to draw contact and finish more plays.

He also puts himself in bad positions with the ball in his hands - whether it be driving the basketball or just simply dribbling around the arc. Lots of his drives end up taking him away from the hoop - part of the reason he kicks the ball back out so often (not necessarily a bad thing, especially at BC where he was surrounded by shooters). Other times, he ends up off the ground before deciding what he is doing with the ball, resulting in bad passes and ugly shots. Besides these forced passes that usually end up at a teammates feet, Jackson is able to put a good amount a zip on the majority of his passes. He needs to get better at passing while on the run, but he shows good velocity on passes, even with his momentum carrying him in the opposite direction. His pure point guard skills can be improved upon by just getting more experience at the position.

As for his ugly shots, his shooting form is somewhat of a concern. He does a poor job of getting his body squared away, playing off-balanced and having to fadeaway at awkward angles in order to get some of his forced shots cleanly. He really changes his shooting technique throughout games, based on certain situations. His natural release needs to be shortened, but when he has time, that is his most effective shot. His ability to move without the ball from his time playing shooting guard, will speed up his effectiveness in the NBA, allowing him to get more open shots than most PGs. He is a much better spot up shooter than shooter in traffic at the moment. Inside the arc, he has shown a floater which will be vitale to his NBA career. He gets compared to Russell Westbrook by some, and if there is one thing he needs to take from his game, its the floater. Westbrook got to the line even less than Jackson did in college (to be fair, Westbrook was in a different situation), but the openness of the NBA game and the development of his floater has helped him become a great NBA player. With similar athletic abilities (I have to give Westbrook the edge, though), Jackson can thrive off the open-style of the NBA as well.

As noted earlier, he does a nice job of keeping his head up with the ball in his hands. He has solid handles, but his left hand could use some improvement. He seems to play more off trial and error now then actual feel for what the opponent is giving him. He throws flashy crossover moves at defenders until he can shake loose. His crossover gets the job done, but it needs to be shortened up a little in the NBA, otherwise it will get swiped right out of his hands. Besides his flashy crossover, he does a good job of turning the corner past defenders by using his speed. Once he gets by them, he is clever enough to use his frame and arm to shield off the defender, enabling him to fully turn the corner. Hesitation moves and changing speeds are still far from perfect, but they have improved from previous years, He has long strides that work getting by a defender, but he needs to also be able to chop of his steps more in order to be more effective inside the arc. Right now, his midrange game and inside game has failed to take flight, mainly due to footwork.

Jackson can make plays, and what is great is he makes them on both ends of the court. Boston College often used Reggie Jackson at the top of their 1-3-1 zone, using his excellent wingspan and solid lateral quickness to create havoc for the opposing teams PG. He gives great effort on that end and has all the tools to become a top tier NBA defender. There have been questions about his defensive positioning, but I believe he improved throughout the year. His basketball IQ on this end is certainly no worse than average. He also gathers his share of rebounds. At the college level, he did a great job on both PGs and wing players alike (he did a great job on Khris Middleton on the possessions they matched up), and his versatility defensively should carry even more weight at the NBA level.

Overall, Reggie Jackson is an underrated prospect who has been flying under the radar all year long. He is now officially in the draft and should start to see his stock rise after more workouts and studying of game film. He played well all year, but he wasn't highly scouted at first. Jackson may be viewed as a workout warrior once he rises into the top 20, but it should be noted that he had a solid season as well. He definitely has lottery potential in this draft.

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