More than 30 reporters and four television cameras awaited North Carolina’s Justin Jackson when he met with the media Thursday at the NBA draft combine.
There’s a lot of interest in Jackson in Chicago.
The Chicago Bulls are slated for the 16th pick in the NBA draft, and Jackson is projected to go to the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 15, according to draftexpress.com. So it’s possible he could end up in the Windy City.
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It didn’t take long for Jackson, who averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season for a North Carolina team that won the national championship, to field questions about the Bulls.
“It’d be an honor whoever drafts me, so if that’s here then that would be great,” Jackson said. “I will try my best to be the best I possibly can. Wherever it might be, that’s where I’m going to try to leave my mark and be as good as I possibly can.”
Asked how he could help the Bulls, Jackson said: “I can shoot the ball pretty well, which helps with spacing. Defensively, I can do a few things and so you kind of add both of those into it. At the end of the day, the Bulls are a great organization already but if I’m blessed to be drafted by them or whoever it might be, I can add a few things to it.”
Jackson, a 6-8, 210-pound forward/guard with a 7-3 wingspan who left UNC after his junior season, has already had 10 interviews with NBA teams – including the Knicks, 76ers, Nuggets, Spurs and Timberwolves – but has yet to meet with the Bulls.
He did get a chance to meet with Phil Jackson, the Knicks’ president who’s won 11 NBA titles as the coach of the Bulls and Lakers, and Michael Jordan, former Tar Heel and owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
“(Jordan) seems more of a businessman than somebody that would look at the UNC connection,” Jackson said. “For him he’s going to choose whoever he thinks is best for his organization.”
Jackson, who entered the draft and attended the combine a year ago but didn’t hire an agent and ended up returning to school, is not playing 5-on-5 at the combine like he did last year, but has gone through the process of testing and interviews. As for his game, he’ll need to prove that he can shoot consistently from deep.
“For me it’s just to kind of see where I’m at compared to some of these guys,” he said. “Just to come out here and experience this whole experience again. Last year was a great experience for me and this year has been even better.”
This year’s experience includes supporting his former UNC teammates Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley.
“I’ll be out here watching them and supporting them, and so I’m looking forward to it,” he said.