UConn star forward Andre Jackson to remain in NBA draft, forego college eligibility

Tribune Content Agency

HARTFORD, Conn. — Andre Jackson put himself in a win-win situation.

After leading the UConn men’s basketball program to its fifth national championship, the Huskies’ captain has decided to remain in the 2023 NBA draft, forgoing his remaining college eligibility, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“My time at UCONN has been filled with ups and downs but through it all I built relationships with my teammates, coaches, friends and fans that will last forever,” Jackson posted on his Twitter account. “I’ve made so many memories playing in that jersey and I will miss it. But I’ll always be a husky. Thank you.”

Jackson’s stock was high after the Huskies’ dominant run through the NCAA Tournament, and continued to rise at the NBA draft combine. During drills and team workouts, Jackson’s unique athleticism and defensive fortitude was on full display for the hundreds of scouts on hand in Chicago.

“It’s not about me making a decision whether I’m gonna come back or go. It’s not about that at all. It’s about what I do here, in these next two days — it’s gonna tell me. The answer is gonna be very evident. Once this is all said and done, it’s gonna be very evident,” Jackson told The Courant after his first scrimmage at the NBA draft combine.

Jackson said he wanted to earn a team’s first-round selection, and left Chicago projected to go near the end of the first round or early in the second. The main concern for NBA teams is Jackson’s jump shot, though he’s been told that if he can develop a 3-pointer from the corner, an offense could adjust for him and present him with some of the rim-running opportunities that made him such an electric player to watch at UConn.

The uniquely athletic 6-foot-6 forward, with his 6-9 1/2 wingspan, made a significant impact for the Huskies that, as the cliché goes, couldn’t be represented on a stat sheet.

His 3-point percentage dipped to 28.1% last season as opposed to the 36.1% he shot during his sophomore season. Jackson only needed to score his average of 6.7 points per game, but was second on the team in rebounds (6.2) and tied with Tristen Newton, who announced he’ll return for his final season earlier Wednesday, for the team lead in assists (4.7).

Jackson is projected to be the No. 32 overall pick in Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft for ESPN.

UConn will be left in the hands of rising sophomores Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban, as well as the graduate student Newton, as it sets out on a bid for back-to-back national championships. UConn’s incoming freshman class, ranked No. 3 in the nation by 247Sports, is headlined by All-American point guard Stephon Castle, and includes Solo Ball, Jaylin Stewart, Jayden Ross and Youssouf Singare.