Jackson Jr. to stay in draft after UConn title run

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UConn junior guard Andre Jackson Jr. — an immense part of the Huskies’ run to the national championship — plans to remain in the June NBA draft, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

Jackson is one of the early entry candidates who had until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to make a decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to college basketball.

He is on team draft boards beginning in the mid-20s and is expected to be selected anywhere from there through the early second round, team executives told ESPN. Jackson has been projected to be picked 32nd overall by the Indiana Pacers in the latest mock draft by ESPN NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony.

Jackson participated in the NBA draft combine and had individual workouts with several teams, including Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Indiana and Portland.

As much as any player in the 2023 NCAA tournament, Jackson built momentum toward becoming a potential first-round pick with a stalwart junior season. At 6-foot-6, his creative and unselfish playmaking, multi-positional defense and leadership intangibles were prominent throughout the UConn’s dominant march to the program’s fifth NCAA title.

Jackson, who averaged 6.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.3 steals in the tournament, still hasn’t shown himself to be a reliable perimeter shooter, but he did show improvement last season. His value to NBA teams could come in a multitude of other ways, especially his disruptive defense and playmaking abilities.

UConn coach Dan Hurley credited Jackson’s leadership in getting the team through a tough midseason patch and back on track toward the national championship. He’s called Jackson a great “connector of people.”

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