CHICAGO – Josh Jackson said he has made a decision on where he will attend college in the fall and play basketball next season.
He said everyone in his camp is on the same page. He said he won’t change his mind. And he said he won’t tell the world until after the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, Ore., which takes place April 9.
So get ready for a lot more days like Tuesday in the meantime. There are 24 elite high school players in tonight’s McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center (9 p.m., ESPN), including two – Miles Bridges and Joshua Langford – who have signed with MSU. They all have big games and their own stories.
Yet the question of whether Jackson — the 6-foot-7, hyper-athletic, highly affable, No. 1-ranked senior wing from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif. — will pick MSU, Kansas or Arizona was practically bouncing off the walls at media sessions Tuesday at United Center. And the answers are open to interpretation.
Let’s start with Bridges, the 6-6 wing/forward from Flint, now a senior at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep and the jewel of Tom Izzo’s highest-ranked class.
He’s been friends with Jackson for years. Both are expected to be high first-round picks in 2017. And Bridges said he knows Jackson’s choice. He also said he’s in Jackson’s ear about MSU constantly.
“I mean, I talk to him every day,” Bridges said. “If he picks Michigan State, he does, and we’ll be great. And if he doesn’t, we’ll still be great. I mean, it’s his decision. I want him to make the best decision for himself, because that is my friend, too.”
So if Bridges is in Jackson’s ear and knows his choice, is he trying to get him to change from Kansas or Arizona? Or is he trying to make sure he’s sticking with MSU?
“I never know with Josh,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard choice for him.”
So maybe it could still change. Except Jackson said it won’t. He also praised MSU and Izzo on Tuesday. But his words could be perceived as consolation.
“I love Michigan State,” said Jackson, who is originally from Detroit. “I actually grew up a State fan. So, even if I decide not to go to Michigan State, they’ll always be in my heart, and I’ll always be a fan of them and coach Izzo.”
Jackson and Langford will play together for the West team tonight, with Bridges on the other side, in the first McDonald’s game featuring two MSU signees since Shannon Brown and Brandon Cotton played in it in 2003.
It’s well-documented that Jackson, Bridges and MSU point guard signee Cassius Winston have known each other through basketball since childhood, but Jackson and Langford have known each other since seventh grade.
So Langford, a 6-6 shooting guard from Madison, Ala., has some thoughts on Jackson’s future as well. And he was asked for them.
“I think Josh is gonna make the best decision for him,” Langford said. “And whatever he does, I’m just gonna be happy for him. He’s a great guy and a great player. He’s gonna do well in this game of basketball for a very long time. I’m not really trying to pressure him, because I know that can get annoying, and I’ve been through that.”
Jackson said Bridges is in his ear “every second of every day,” though, even now that a decision has been made.
For months, Jackson was considered a strong MSU lean – before the other four signed, the five of them came up with T-shirts predicting a dream class, and Jackson’s name was on them along with Bridges, Langford, Winston and big man Nick Ward.
But then came rumors that people in his camp disagreed with his choice of MSU, and rumors last week that he was on the verge of committing to Kansas. Jackson did confirm Tuesday of the idea of a disagreement over his choice, saying: “There was a little bit of truth to that.”
“Everybody doesn’t have the same opinion about things, so sometimes people look at things a little different, and people are gonna have disagreements,” said Jackson, whose mother, Apples Jones, has been heavily involved in the process. “But at the end of the day, I’ve got to make the decision that is best for me.”
So does the last part of that comment mean he got the rest of the camp to see things his way, or does he now see things the camp’s way?
The answer is about two weeks away. Tonight, a national TV audience will get a glimpse at why there’s so much fuss about it.
Hoop it up
What: 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game.
Where: United Center, Chicago.
When: 9 p.m. tonight.
Local ties: East team — Miles Bridges, MSU commit; West team —Joshua Langford, MSU commit; Josh Jackson, MSU recruit.