Projected landing spots in NBA draft for Bridges, Jackson and Ward
Jackson is now the third Spartan in the past week to enter the draft, along with sophomore wing Miles Bridges, who will sign with agent Rich Paul, and sophomore forward Nick Ward, who will submit his name, but not sign an agent.
Jackson joins former Spartans Zach Randolph and Deyonta Davis as the only players to be a one-and-done player under head coach Tom Izzo during his tenure at MSU.
Multiple mock drafts including NBADraft.net and DraftExpress have Jackson as a borderline top-5 pick projected to be selected to either the Sacramento Kings or Dallas Mavericks depending on the NBA lottery order. Jackson has also been projected as high as a top-3 pick, according to ESPN and Sports Illustrated.
Jackson is a 6-foot-11, 242-pound forward who averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and three blocks in just under 22 minutes a game in his freshman season. Jackson has shown flashes of being one of the top two-way players in the country by being named Big Ten Freshman and Defensive Player of the year. Averaging 5.7 blocks per game, Jackson broke an MSU record of 106 blocks in a season that was held for 33 years.
Bridges was projected a top-15 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, however, his draft stock remains the same after posting similar stat lines from last year.
NBADraft.net and CBSSports have Bridges being selected between the 10th and 13th pick, where he could possibly land to the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers or the Charlotte Hornets.
In his second season, Bridges averaged 17.1 points, seven rebounds and 2.1 assists, while being named a consensus second-team All-American and First-team All-Big Ten.
Signing with Rich Paul plays a major factor for Bridges, as Paul is also an agent for multiple NBA stars including LeBron James, Ben Simmons, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.
Both the Cavaliers and 76ers are projected with lottery picks, so it is a possibility Bridges could play a factor for these teams. It is also possible Bridges could end up with the Nuggets to play alongside former Spartan Gary Harris.
Many analysts believe Ward should stay another year to fully develop and improve upon his game. Ward has until May 30 to withdraw his name and return to MSU, however he is still eligible to participate in the NBA draft combine in Chicago from May 16-20.
Very few mock drafts have Ward being selected, and he might end up being undrafted and join an NBA team for the summer league and hopefully sign with a team. Former Spartans Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, but eventually signed with teams and now are playing on the professional level.
Five incoming recruits will join the Spartans this coming fall. If Ward were to leave for the draft, it would open up a scholarship.
The NBA draft will begin on June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York at 7 p.m.