Memphis Grizzlies Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. Transitions to NBA

Jack Breitowich, Maroon-News Staff

Of all the rookies in the NBA this year including Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III and Mo Bamba, one of the biggest and most promising is the 6’11”, fourth overall pick, Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies. After being recognized as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, there was a lot of hype around Jackson this season and what his presence in the NBA might be.

Jackson has averaged 13 points through his first five NBA games. His most notable performance in his short career came on October 19, against the Atlanta Hawks, where he dropped 24 points, two blocks, two assists and one steal. His presence has contributed to a 3-2 start on the season for the Grizzlies.

So, how does a 19-year-old adapt from playing against college athletes to facing best players in the world on a nightly basis? It helps when you are 6’11” and was under the guidance of the one of the top coaches in college basketball, Tom Izzo of Michigan State University.

After winning the Dicks Sporting Goods National Championship his senior year of highschool for La Lumiere School and sharing a Big Ten Champion- ship his freshman year, his only year of college at Michigan State, Jackson knows a thing or two about winning.

“All I want to do is win, that is all I have in my mind right now,” Jackson said when I spoke to him before his high school national championship game in 2017. A year later, this winning mindset, and narrative to media, has yet to change in Jackson.

“Winning is strictly business,” Jackson wrote in a piece to the Players Tribune published on June 16, 2017 when he was still at Michigan State.

Though Jackson is just a rookie in the NBA, playing alongside some of the league’s best players is nothing new for Jackson. Jackson has played with some of the top players at their respected level such as former Michigan State teammate, Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets, and former high school teammates Brian Bowen of the Sydney Kings and Jordan Poole from University of Michigan.

Jackson has not only won often himself but also has been coached by an NBA champion all his life, his father. Jaren Jackson Sr. won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999, and continues to coach part-time for La Lumiere School, Jackson Jr.’s high school, as well as help his son improve in Tennessee with the Grizzlies.

Jackson Jr. has attributed much of his success to the influence of his father.

“Growing up my father was my biggest supporter,” Jackson said to ESPN. “He always encouraged me to practice my shooting, which was odd considering how big I am, but that has only made me better.”

Hopefully Jackson can use the coaching and skill passed down from his father and follow in his father’s footsteps and win a championship.

Many questions are now circulating around Jackson’s role with the Grizzlies. Is he a guy who can take a low-ranked team to the promise land that is the playoffs and maybe even a championship? You will have to tune in this season to find out.

Contact Jack Breitowich at [email protected].