South Carolina Basketball: Former Gamecock GOES OFF in NBA preseason

South Carolina basketball alum GG Jackson had a big night in the NBA Preseason. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball alum GG Jackson had a big night in the NBA Preseason. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris pulled in the Gamecocks’ highest-rated player of the modern recruiting era last offseason when he secured a commitment from talented forward GG Jackson.

The Columbia native had an up-and-down season in garnet and black, and his draft stock plummeted because of inconsistencies with his shot selection, passing, and maturity.

From the end of his one season in Columbia to this point (almost six months later), Jackson appears to have grown up tremendously and has shown some promise as a young NBA player with the Memphis Grizzlies.

After being drafted 45th in the 2023 NBA Draft, Jackson had a strong Summer League as an offensive player, and on Thursday night, he had a big-time showing in the NBA Preseason against the Atlanta Hawks.

As expected, Jackson’s contributions began on the offensive end of the floor. Like he did many times while a part of the South Carolina basketball program, he led all scorers with 24 points, including four made 3-pointers and several makes at the rim through contact. He got himself open off the ball for catch-and-shoot opportunities, and he created his own shot well off the dribble.

He also showed off his major athleticism with the way he ran the floor and knifed through the defense on several dribble drives.

Asked to play on the wing as a 3 and stretch-4 (likely his most natural spot), Jackson didn’t have many opportunities near the basket for rebounds or blocked shots, but he did step down to the block to foil a Bruno Fernando dunk attempt. The big block at the rim showed that Jackson is not afraid to contest bigger players (Fernando is 30 pounds heavier), something that will endear him to his teammates.

The Hawks played most of their starters for a decent amount of minutes in this game, so Jackson played some realistic NBA competition at times in the game, showcasing the potential he has to become a good NBA contributor.

For a Grizzlies team that has a very solid backcourt (point guard Ja Morant and shooting guard Desmond Bane are All-Star level players, and Luke Kennard and Marcus Smart will provide shooting and defense on the perimeter) and bigs (Jaren Jackson, Jr. won NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, and Santi Aldama are locked into the top-3 spots), wing play seems to be the only need on the roster.

Jackson’s ability to play the 3 or the stretch-4 makes him a logical fit on the roster alongside fellow wings like John Konchar and Ziaire Williams. It would come as no surprise to South Carolina basketball fans if Jackson finds his way onto the full-time roster and into a role with the Grizzlies this season.

If he can continue to put the ball through the basket and compete on defense, GG Jackson will be too valuable to keep in the G-League this season.

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