Elite junior GG Jackson, one of the top players in the 2023 men’s basketball class, announced his commitment to the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday.
Jackson chose the Tar Heels over South Carolina, UMass, Duke, Auburn, Georgetown and a few other programs that have tried to get into the mix in recent weeks. North Carolina was seen as the big favorite for Jackson’s announcement, especially after last month’s coaching change in South Carolina. The Tar Heels have long been a factor in Jackson’s recruitment, but – after Duke’s string of commitments in 2023 and the Gamecocks firing Frank Martin and hiring Lamont Paris – they got all the momentum last month.
“They showed from the start that they wanted me the most,” Jackson told ESPN over the weekend. “I really see it. They showed up at all my AAU games so far. And before the Final Four, they came to visit me at school, which was shocking. It clearly shows the dedication that they put into their recruiting.”
North Carolina is one of the hottest programs in the country right now, advancing to the national championship game as the 8th seed, then seeing four of its five starters announce their intention to return to Chapel Hill next season. The Tar Heels could open next season as the No. 1 preseason team in the nation.
“People kind of fell asleep on it. They kind of woke everybody up,” Jackson said last weekend. “Caroline’s basketball is still Carolina’s basketball.”
A 6-foot-9 forward from Ridge View High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Jackson is ranked No. 6 in the ESPN 100 for 2023. He averaged 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds on the Nike EYBL Tour last spring and summer, and he has 13.3 points and 9.6 rebounds in eight games on the Tour this season. During his college season, he averaged 22.1 points and 10.9 rebounds, earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors in South Carolina.
“Jackson is a developing athletic forward who uses his elite speed to sprint rim-to-rim and displays impressive lateral quickness at his height,” said Paul Biancardi, ESPN’s national scouting director. “With his explosiveness, he is an active shot blocker, both on his man and in the assist position. His scoring comes from his natural talent, strong frame and soft touch inside. At this stadium, he is exceptional in the low- and mid-position, simply by establishing and maintaining contact with his defender. He uses a basic drop-step or jump-hook, and his hands are trustworthy in as a lob catcher or to complete drop-off passes.
Throughout Jackson’s high school season, there has been speculation that he could reclassify in the Class of 2022 and enroll in college next fall. At this point, he said he plans to stay in 2023.
“We’re looking at it early,” Jackson said. “But weighing my options and looking at the different people who have been upgraded, seeing how it’s affected them. I feel like physically I’m not there to play at that college level yet, so I wanted to stay in my class and just prepare as best I can.”
Jackson is North Carolina’s second top-10 commitment in the Class of 2023, joining New Jersey guard Simeon Wilcher. Wilcher, ranked No. 10 in the ESPN 100, picked the Tar Heels last fall.