Josh Jackson was back in Michigan on Monday, but he won’t be staying long.
The No.1-ranked high school player in the country announced via Twitter that he will play his college basketball at Kansas.
Two weeks ago, word leaked that Jackson, 6 feet 7, had committed to Kansas, which Jackson quickly denied. But now there is no denying that he will not play at either Michigan State or Arizona, his other finalists.
It is a foregone conclusion that Jackson will be a one-and-done college player and already is being mentioned as possibly the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
Jackson is a rare talent, capable of playing any of the perimeter positions from point guard to shooting guard to small forward.
He has been a standout performer for USA Basketball, but he has left the people of Michigan wondering: What if?
And that has nothing to do with his shunning of MSU.
The ironic thing is we had another state tournament conclude last month, and fans packed the Breslin Center to watch the championships, but no one mentioned Jackson’s name.
What if Jackson had played in the state all four years of high school?
After helping Detroit Consortium win the Class C state championship as a sophomore when he very much was the talk of the Breslin Center, Jackson left to play his final two years at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif, which is a club team, not a high school team.
That’s why it’s impossible to gauge where Jackson would rank amongst the best players in state history.
Had Jackson remained in Michigan for his entire high school career, there is little doubt he would have been one of the greatest players in state history, perhaps second only to Magic Johnson.
Jackson might very well have led Consortium to three consecutive state championships, the final two in Class B.
When asked what effect Jackson’s presence would have had on the state tournament the past two years, Detroit Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers was befuddled.
“Wow!” he said. “I don’t know.”
Henry Ford won the Class B state championship last month, and when reminded that Consortium is now a Class B school, Flowers laughed.
A year ago, Henry Ford defeated a Jacksonless Consortium, 70-52, in the regional final. This season, Consortium lost to Detroit Douglass in the district semifinal.
Might Jackson in the Consortium lineup meant a different Class B state champion the past two seasons?
“You never know, man, you never know,” Flowers said. “I’d never let one guy beat me. I’d have some kind of game plan for him, but he’s a heck of a player, so I don’t know.”
Nobody knows for sure, but Jackson is the kind of player who can dominate a game at both ends of the court.
Taking this a step further, would U-D Jesuit’s Cassius Winston be the 2016 winner of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award had Jackson not left for California?
It was Winston, at the Mr. Basketball presentation, who mentioned that it didn’t hurt his chances when Jackson and Flint’s Miles Bridges decided to leave the state to finish basketball.
“Them two leaving probably helped my being Mr. Basketball,” Winston said. “I’m not going to lie like that. I stayed here, represent the state, represented my city. That’s what I tried to do.”
Jackson, or his mother — Apples Jones — had another agenda, which is their prerogative.
It isn’t unusual for tennis protégés to leave home and attend high school at tennis academies across the country. Some hockey players also do something similar.
They do that to find better competition, but I’m not sure Jackson needed to leave Michigan to develop into the No. 1 player in the country.
Jackson did what he — and/or his mother — thought was best for him, so God bless him.
It’s just too bad we never really got to know him is a high school player. And now we won’t get to know him as a college player.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
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