Welcome to the first installment of the Manager Musings series where I will share my thoughts on prospects that I am fortunate to scout and evaluate in person this season as a manager for the Syracuse Orange. I’m really excited as this is my first true “written” series, but the plan is still to incorporate my trademarked data viz and analytical insights to frame these evaluations.
Enough talk – here we go with Andre Jackson of UConn!
Andre Jackson | Connecticut
So. | Wing | 6’6” | 205 lbs. | 11/13/2001
Battle 4 Atlantis Per Game Statistics
3.7 PTS, 1.3 OREB, 7.3 DREB, 3.0 AST, 0.7 STL, 1.3 BLK, 2.7 TOV, 2.7 PF, 35.2 TS%
Andre Jackson, a former 4-star recruit and now sophomore starting wing for the Huskies, is known for his otherworldly athleticism, and rightly so. He’s an absolute outlier in terms of leaping ability and acceleration, both of which show on each end of the court. From getting an in-person look at Andre in high school to most recently at the 2021 Battle 4 Atlantis, a few things really pop from a scouting perspective.
Lack of Scoring Diversity
For as long as I’ve been scouting him, Jackson has struggled to create for himself as a scorer. This reared its ugly head throughout his three games in the Bahamas. In 84 minutes of play, he failed to make a three (0-of-4) and only scored three times, of which all were at the rim. While it may be unfair to look at only a three game sample against stiff competition, it seems like there hasn’t been much progression on this front from last season. He did display a nice “feel” push shot (clip further down) which was an enticing flash that he’ll need to show more of-the-like. I think that his near-term goal needs to be to add a consistent, reliable spot-up/catch-and-shoot three to maximize his efficiency as a rim attacker. A high usage/creation role doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so these minor ancillary skill progressions paired with his uber-athleticism would bode well for his standing as a potential NBA Draft selection.
Rebounder + Transition Ball Progressor
What impressed me most when scouting Andre was his unrelenting determination to make a difference on the glass. In only 84 minutes played throughout the Battle 4 Atlantis, Jackson pulled down 26 rebounds! Not only does he attack the ball at its highest point nearly every time, but you can clearly see him quickly surveying and processing the outlay of would-be rebounders beforehand in order to determine his path toward crashing, boxing out, and/or timing his jump. Even when he isn’t able to carve out ideal positioning or angles to track down a rebound, he often has the luxury of simply outleaping the opposition.
I mean just look at this sequence…
This transitions us into my next observation. Coach Hurley seems to enjoy using Jackson as a transition pace-pusher. Whether asked to just “GO” after pulling down a defensive rebound or quickly receiving an outlet pass, Jackson is able to build up a blazing head of steam, and swiftly. Not many players out there can go end-to-end as quick as him and this often creates uber-efficient transition scoring advantages for the Huskies. Check out the next clip where he goes from under his own basket to a paint touch in three (3!) seconds.
While the outcome was a turnover, the pop and the early process was encouraging. You can clearly see Akok pointing for the lob, which certainly would have been the more appropriate pass to the rim-running big as opposed to low shovel pass.
Jackson still has a way to go with buttoning up these types of decisions with the ball in his hands, but it’s important to realize that the opportunity to make such a decision wouldn’t even be available without his special coast-to-coast explosiveness. With reps, I hope to see Jackson become more comfortable finishing these plays off and more consistently punishing opponents in transition.
Finally… the defensive and transition sequence from the Battle 4 Atlantis that I found utterly amazing. The film speaks for itself but to summarize, in 20 seconds Jackson: skies for a rebound that he grabs at the midpoint of the backboard square, covers ¾ of the court and passes to an open three-point shooter in four seconds, and then two-hand volleyball spikes a Max Christie layup attempt at the rim on the other end. An absolutely mind-boggling display of motor and athleticism.
Curl to Push
Flipping over to half-court offense, Hurley looked to get Jackson going with a designed pindown set to get him attacking downhill. The resulting play was encouraging from an offensive feel and touch perspective. With decisiveness, Jackson puts it on the floor once before picking it up into a one-leg running push shot that he places softly into the hoop with noticeable confidence. I absolutely love seeing this from him and hope that this becomes a more consistent, viable counter for him when defenses collapse and he can’t get all the way to the basket.
Lastly, what better to end this piece on than a flash of 100th percentile athleticism. Sit back and enjoy the ease at which Jackson converts this half-court alley oop.
Andre Jackson is an insanely special athlete. He’ll continue to wow with his end-to-end speed and jaw-dropping dunks, but his long-term future as a prospect lies in his offensive progression. The one dribble pick-ups to push shots are a nice start and a glimpse into what scouts need to see more of from him. UConn is a solid team with a handful of interesting fringe prospects (Jackson, Hawkins, Sanogo, etc.) this season, so I’ll certainly be tuning into their Big East Conference play and keying in on how Jackson progresses throughout the season.
While he still certainly has some things to clean up, Jackson has piqued my interest and is very much on NBA radars. Whether that be for the 2022 NBA Draft or more long-term remains to be seen.
Larry Wilberding · December 7, 2021 at 10:30 pm
Keep ‘em coming