Maryland Basketball: Justin Jackson shows tremendous versatility


Justin Jackson had the worst performance of his brief Maryland career against Illinois last Saturday.

In the Terrapins’ 84-76 win over Iowa on Thursday, Jackson affected the game in multiple facets and turned in a very complete effort.

Jackson scored 12 points (4-of-9 shooting) and led the team in rebounds (9), steals (6), and blocks (2). The East York, Ontario native was also one of two Terps to be perfect from the free throw line (4-of-4).

One of the first things that jumps out is the fact that Jackson is very active on the court. For example, the game was barely a minute old and he was already making an impact.

Iowa’s Cordell Pemsl attempted to drive towards the basket on a pick-and-roll. Pemsl was erratic with the basketball and Jackson knocked it away and preceded to head down the court.

Throughout the season, Jackson has only been extremely aggressive when guarding the passing lanes. In seven games this season, he’s recorded a steal.

Swiping the basketball is not the only department that Jackson excels at on the defensive end.

One of the biggest assets for Jackson is his length. Coach Mark Turgeon utilizes Jackson similar to the way he did Jake Layman when Layman was in College Park.

Layman too had a very large wingspan, which allowed him to excel as a stretch four. He rebounded the ball at a high clip and could defend bigger post players.

With 10:41 left in the opening half, Iowa’s Tyler Cook received a pass beyond the arc and made a move towards the rim. As he drove towards the basket, Jackson stayed with Cook stride-for-stride and completely rejected the shot as Cook went to put it up with his left hand.

It’s remarkable to see Jackson stay with a player that has the athleticism that Cook possesses. Cook is quick enough to beat anyone off the dribble, but Jackson didn’t allow that to happen.

Jackson is currently third on the team in blocks with 0.9 rejections per contest. It’s worth noting that Michal Cekovsky has 1.2 per contest, but he’s only appeared in nine games due to injury.

Oh and let’s not forget that Jackson can flat-out score the basketball.

Jackson is shooting 44 percent from the field on the season along with a 42.3 percent clip from beyond the arc. The former four-star recruit really can hit his shot from just about anywhere on the floor.

With 7:28 to go in Thursday’s game, the ball had just went out of bounds off Iowa’s Nicholas Baer after he blocked a Melo Trimble layup attempt. On the ensuing inbounds play, Jackson was able to squeak free right to the side of the basket and Huerter noticed that immediately.

Jackson got free to a spot and nailed a short, little jumper to give the Terps a 63-58 lead with 7:23 to go.

It’s rare to find a player that does a lot of different things well. Usually, especially in a forward’s case, he’s a good shooter or an above-average rebounder or can alter shots.

Luckily for Turgeon, Jackson excels in all three of those areas and then some. It’s hard to pinpoint a weakness in his game.

He’s not an incredible shooter at the free throw line, but Jackson does make 67.9 percent, which isn’t terrible. Jackson also only attempt 3.1 shots per contest at the charity stripe.

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Jackson was a huge late addition to this class and it’s hard to say where this group would be without him. One thing is for sure: when the Canadian import gets in the zone, there’s very few that can knock him off his game.