MSU standout Jaren Jackson Jr. declares for 2018 NBA Draft, will sign agent
A third Spartan has decided to enter the NBA draft.
Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. announced over Twitter he will forgo his three remaining seasons of NCAA eligibility and declare for the NBA draft. Jackson, along with sophomores Miles Bridges and Nick Ward announced last week they would also declare for the upcoming draft.
Jackson, a 6-foot-10 product of La Lumiere prep, said he plans to sign with an agent.
“Michigan State is an amazing place,” Jackson said in a Tweeted statement. “And this has been an amazing year — from the time I hit the campus in June for summer workouts and summer school until now. I never imagined it would be like this. Never. Playing for Coach Izzo and the rest of the staff has been incredible. … Please know nothing was lost on me. Still, nothing is bigger than the bond I have with my teammates. These guys are my family. They will always be my brothers.
“This was not an automatic decision. And honestly, thank you for making it one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to think about. While playing in the NBA was always my dream and desire, I did not know the opportunity would present itself in quite this way. I’m ready to live my dreams and I cannot pass it up. Therefore, the time has come to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft.”
Jackson, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, played in all 35 games to help MSU to a 30-5 record. He averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, shot 51.3 percent from the floor and 39.6 percent from 3-point range.
Jackson’s 106 blocks set a single-season block record, surpassing Ken Johnson, who recorded 72 blocks in the 1984-85 season. Jackson also set MSU’s single-game block record on Dec. 5, with eight blocks against Rutgers. He accounted for 42.2 percent of the team’s total blocks.
He is the first player to earn both Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors since Ohio State’s Greg Oden in 2007.
Jackson was also selected to the All-Big Ten Third team and was a unanimous selection to the conference All-Freshman team.
“I’m so proud of Jaren and excited for him as he takes the next step in his basketball career,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “He was a tremendous talent when he first stepped on campus, but when I think about the way he’s improved so much in just one year, especially defensively and with the ball, the sky’s the limit on what he can accomplish. There’s no question he could be one of the first few players selected in the draft.”
Jackson is considered by many outlets to be a consensus lottery pick, and many have Jackson going in the top five picks.
“Jaren’s a great young man who was an absolute joy to coach,” Izzo said in a statement. “He loved being a part of this team and Michigan State University. Everyone knows what he achieved on the court with his blocked shots record and earning Big Ten Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year honors, but they should also know that his success in the classroom was just as great. Furthermore, the way he handles himself with class off the court will serve him well as a professional. He has a great support system in place with his terrific parents, and I look forward to him having a long productive NBA career.”
Bridges, another favorite as a lottery pick, announced he would forgo his remaining two seasons to opt into the draft. Bridges said he signed with agent Rich Paul and Klutch Sports. Ward, who will not sign with an agent, has the option to return to MSU, but must decide to do so by May 30.
He is the son of NBA Champion Jaren Jackson Sr. — who won the 1999 title with San Antonio — and the mother of Terri Jackson, who is the Director of Operations for the WNBA Players Association.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated 3 p.m.