NBA draft profile: Notre Dame PG Demetrius Jackson


Demetrius Jackson

Position: PG

Height: 6-1

Weight: 198

School: Notre Dame

What Demetrius Jackson wasn't blessed with in height he more than makes up for in other areas. Specifically, he has explosiveness, toughness and the ability to come through in the clutch that other players wish they had in their repertoire.

With backcourt mate Jerian Grant leaving for the NBA, Jackson took over the reins for Notre Dame in 2015-16 and didn't miss a beat. Jackson averaged 15.8 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game to help lead the Fighting Irish to a second straight Elite Eight appearance.

For teams looking for a point guard that checks off in buzzword categories such as upside and wingspan, Jackson likely isn't the guy for those teams. But for franchises searching for a player that is going to compete against anyone and try to impose his will on the game, Jackson fits that mold.

Despite being barely over 6-feet tall barefoot and not even 200 pounds, Jackson plays with the toughness of someone much bigger. He has a chiseled upper body and doesn't shy away from contact anywhere on the floor.

That compact frame doesn't mean Jackson is limited to a below-the-rim game. The 21-year-old has been known to soar above the rim for dunks on the break and even catch lob passes. He also shows burst with a strong first step to get by his man for a bucket or draw a second defender to kick to an open teammate.

Jackson also benefited from playing in head coach Mike Brey's three-guard, two-big motion offense at Notre Dame. The system focuses on reading off paired screens for pick-and-roll situations, which will obviously be a big staple for Jackson at the pro level. He proved to be very adept at knowing when to penetrate and when to dish to teammates in the pick and roll.

Another key ingredient to Jackson's game is his habit of coming up big in late-game situations. Whether sinking a crucial bucket or making a huge defensive stop, he just has that certain knack in the clutch. Local fans got to see that firsthand at the Wells Fargo Center during the NCAA Tournament when Jackson scored six points and swiped two steals in the final 19 seconds to help Notre Dame rally past Wisconsin for a 61-56 win in the Sweet 16.

One thing NBA teams will worry about is just how Jackson's body will hold up at the next level. Even with his solid build, he's still small and drawing contact is a big part of his game. Will he be able to sustain that style of play during an 82-game grind?

And if he is able to stay on the floor, which Jackson will a team get on the offensive end? With Grant no longer around and Jackson as the focus of opposing defenses, the point guard's efficiency numbers fell way off as a junior last year. Jackson's field-goal percentage dipped from 50.8 to 45.1 while his three-point percentage dropped from 42.9 to 33.1.

On the other end, Jackson has all the tools to make up a solid defender. However, he often falls victim to a lack of effort when fighting through traffic and has his share of mental lapses.

How he'd fit with Sixers
Pretty well if you can guarantee that his streaky jump shot returns to 2014-15 form. Any guard the Sixers add this offseason will need to be able to shoot from outside with so many bigs down low. Jackson's pick-and-roll ability would catch on quickly with Brett Brown's system and the point guard appears very receptive to coaching.

NBA comparison
I'll say Raymond Felton on this one. Neither player is tall, but both have some thickness in their upper bodies and don't mind taking a bump. Plus, Jackson shows patience in the pick and roll, which became a major staple of Felton's game when he played for former Sixers assistant Mike D'Antoni with the New York Knicks. Jackson has an advantage over Felton on outside shooting and athleticism that should give him an edge at the next level.

Draft projection
Late lottery to late teens. Like I wrote in Wednesday's draft profile on Wade Baldwin IV, he and Jackson will likely battle it out to see which one is the second true point guard to come off the board after Kris Dunn. Either way, I don't see Jackson making it to the 20s.

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