Maryland received a huge boost on Wednesday when Justin Jackson announced that he would be returning to College Park for his sophomore season.
Jackson had entered the NBA Draft, but didn’t hire an agent. That allowed the freshman forward to go through the draft process and gather feedback on his professional potential.
The 6’7 forward performed well at the Scouting Combine, which led to his draft decision going down to the wire. The situation was similar to Melo Trimble’s after his sophomore season with the Terrapins when Trimble ultimately decided to return to College Park.
With Jackson officially back in the fold for the 2017-18 season, how does that impact Maryland?
First of all, Trimble will be playing basketball at some professional level next season. With that being said, Jackson will be the top returning leading scorer from last year’s group.
Jackson averaged 10.5 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds while also shooting a team-high 43.8 percent from beyond the arc. His 0.8 blocks-per-game were also third on the team.
The Terps will be returning their stellar freshman trio from a year ago. Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Jackson will all be back in the starting lineup and should provide steady production once again.
Cowan should be the team’s primary ball-handler next season. In addition, incoming freshman Darryl Morsell could see some time at the point guard position.
With Trimble gone, Morsell should see a significant amount of minutes as a freshman. He’s an extremely athletic guard that can handle the basketball while possessing the ability to drive to the rim at will.
Cowan and Morsell should be able to create plenty of perimeter opportunities for the likes of Huerter and Jackson.
Huerter and Jackson are Maryland’s two best three-point shooters. Despite shooting just 34.2 percent, Jared Nickens also possesses the ability to be a knockdown shooter from the perimeter.
Depending on what kind of starting lineup Mark Turgeon goes with, Jackson will likely play the four spot next season. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Turgeon went with three guards again in Cowan, Huerter, and either Morsell or Dion Wiley.
Jackson faced bigger post players quite a bit as a freshman, but performed just fine. The former UNLV signee didn’t shy away from fighting for rebounds and loose balls down low.
In addition, Michal Cekovsky should get the bulk of the minutes at center as long as he’s healthy. Cekovsky played in just 17 games during the 2016-17 season due to a combination of injuries.
Cekovsky will replace Damonte Dodd, who has graduated from the program. The Slovakian native offers more of an offensive upside, so Maryland should get more interior scoring than they did a season ago.
Jackson’s return just brings a ton of stability to the lineup. He’s able to guard multiple positions and offers a ton of offensive versatility.
With another year at the collegiate level, Jackson could easily make the jump to the NBA. For now, the Terps are happy to have him back in College Park.