After three years in a North Carolina uniform, Justin Jackson has found his next home in Sacramento.
The Kings selected the 6-foot-8 junior forward with the No. 15 pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night. Jackson is the 111th draft pick in UNC history and the 22nd under head coach Roy Williams. He’s also the 17th first-round pick Williams has coached.
Jackson, a Tomball, Tex., product, leaves North Carolina as one of the most decorated players in school history. Last season, he averaged a team-high 18.3 points per game along with 4.7 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists per game. He made 105 3-pointers on 37 percent shooting, breaking a record that had stood for 20 years (Shammond Williams, 95 3-pointers in 1996-97 season).
The Kings have a strong starter at small forward in Rudy Gay, who averaged a team-high 18.7 points per game but only played in 30. Jackson will likely contend for minutes with players like slashers Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore and Garrett Temple and sharpshooter Buddy Hield.
As postseason play began, Jackson racked up even more accolades. He was the , a first-team All-ACC selection and a consensus first-team All-American. He averaged 19.5 points per game, again, a team high, during the Tar Heels’ six-game run to their sixth .
After scoring 22 points against in the Final Four, he scored 16 against Gonzaga in the and limited Nigel Williams-Goss, the Bulldogs’ best player, to 5-17 shooting. His 117 total points in the 2017 NCAA Tournament were the fourth most in school history.
Jackson ended this season as the fourth Tar Heel to garner the ACC Player of the Year award along with All-NCAA Regional and All-Final Four team selections. He was the first to do so since Ty Lawson in 2009.
His durability and consistency over the past two years were unmatched. He was one of six players in UNC history to start two national championships and was the only Tar Heel to play in all 80 games over the last two seasons. Jackson’s 239 career NCAA Tournament points rank second behind Tyler Hansbrough (325).
Jackson also entered the NBA Draft last season before withdrawing his name — taking advantage of an NCAA rule in its first year of existence. His return to UNC, which gave him a national title and an improved draft stock, is a perfect example of how the new rule can help players test the waters then before going pro. Jackson’s the draft this year was a no-brainer.