Maryland’s Justin Jackson, potential first-round pick, entering NBA draft despite shoulder injury

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Maryland sophomore forward Justin Jackson had season-ending shoulder surgery in December, complicating his NBA aspirations.

He’s still turning pro, though.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Maryland sophomore Justin Jackson is foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility and declaring for the 2018 NBA draft.

Jackson will hire an agent in the near future.

Unfortunately for him, his sophomore season was derailed by by a torn labrum injury in his shoulder he suffered in August

According to Jackson, the timetable for his recovery was approximated at six months following his surgery, meaning he will be ready to play competitive basketball at the NBA combine in May. He is close to being cleared for basketball activity in the next few weeks and will be available to participate in drills during private NBA workouts.

If Jackson suffered the injury in August, that could explain his poor 3-point shooting this season – 25%, down from 44% last season. Those are both on small samples (40 attempts this year, 105 attempts last year), so teams will deeply evaluate his shooting. That skill is most important to his pro prospects.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and impressive strength, Jackson is a versatile forward who can defend multiple positions. He just needs that outside shooting to bring his game together. He doesn’t have the skill and feel for a bigger offensive role, but 3-and-D forwards are in-demand and easy fits on any team.

Depending on evaluations of his shoulder and how his shot looks when healthy, Jackson could climb into the first round. He also might go in the second round. With those two major questions, his range is wide.