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Potential No. 1 pick, likely top-three pick Josh Jackson declares for NBA draft

Purdue v Kansas

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 23: Josh Jackson #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts against the Purdue Boilermakers during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 23, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are the consensus top two prospects in the upcoming NBA draft.

But if anyone can pass them, it’s Josh Jackson – especially now that the Kansas freshman forward has turned pro.

Dave Skretta of the Associated Press:

Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday
Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

Jackson appears to be a near-lock for the top five. He could even go No. 1, especially if a team that doesn’t need a point guard wins the lottery.

Though he’s just a freshman, the 20-year-old Jackson will likely be the oldest player selected in the lottery. He’s older than several sophomores projected for the top half of the first round. So, expectations were high for Jackson this season – and he mostly met them.

The 6-foot-8 Jackson is extremely quick in every direction, including off the ground, and his skills keep up with his athleticism. He’s an aggressive defender and rebounder. Get him the ball, and he’ll attack the rim with the ability to finish or find teammates. His relentlessness opens so much.

But he gets into trouble when he (too often) tries to create his own shot. He can get bumped around, and his jumper is hardly reliable. Though he made 38% of his 3-pointers this season, that was on a small sample (34-of-90), his 3-point record entering college was poor, and he made just 57% of his free throws.

At least he can score in a variety of ways, even if he excels at none in the half-court. His narrow frame is a bigger concern defensively, where it’s unclear whether he can hang with NBA power forwards.

Jackson is also facing legal issues.

Still, it’s hard not to fall for Jackson’s athleticism, skills and motor.