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Red hot Heels: UNC lands No. 1 overall prospect GG Jackson

A massive month for North Carolina keeps getting sweeter, as the national runner-ups have now landed the commitment of No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2023, GG Jackson. The marquee recruiting victory comes at a perfect time, as the Tar Heels’ arch-rivals, Duke, landed the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 class and were one of Jackson's finalists as well.

This is exactly the type of recruiting counterpunch UNC fans wanted, and head coach Hubert Davis has now served it to them. Below, Rivals.com looks at what North Carolina is getting and explores what it means for the big picture.


WHAT NORTH CAROLINA IS GETTING

A difference-maker on both ends of the floor, Jackson boasts a frame that looks like that of a pro already. He’s more than just body-based upside and athleticism, though. The five-star has become an incredibly solid shooter from deep and possesses the quickness to take defenders off the dribble as well. He’s a poised finisher that easily scores through contact and regularly takes over games. Jackson handles the ball incredibly well for a prospect of his size. So while you probably don’t want him bringing the ball up the floor every possession, he certainly isn’t a liability handling it on the perimeter. On the offensive end, he’s dangerous facing up or playing with his back to the basket, which enables him to exploit any mismatch that comes his way. His defensive versatility is above average as well, as he protects the rim decently well and can stay in front of small ball-handlers in a pinch. Jackson has the upside of a lottery pick and will work to become an even better shooter and passer in the year ahead. He's currently among the EYBL leaders in rebounding, which is striking because his inability to crash the boards was once considered a weakness of his game. He'll take the next step when he proves capable of dominating games against top-flight competition with his offensive skill set on a consistent basis.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE TAR HEELS

It’s difficult to know where to start here, as the repercussions for North Carolina could fill a page itself. This is, among other things, important for UNC’s battle in its own backyard. Duke has had the upper hand on the recruiting side of the rivalry for some time now and didn’t seem to miss a step as it transitioned between coaches. UNC, on the other hand, has been running a step or two behind the past two cycles as Roy Williams gave way to Hubert Davis. This, combined with UNC’s run to the national title game, changes that. Success compounds in recruiting and that’s almost a lock to happen here. The Tar Heels’ recruiting needed a shot in the arm, and a Final Four run combined with landing the No. 1 player in the 2023 class will provide just that. This was both a counterpunch by North Carolina and a declaration to the country about what the future of the Tar Heel-Blue Devil rivalry may hold under Hubert Davis. Jackson will pair well with five-star guard Simeon Wilcher, who also brings length and skill set that projects well to the pro level to the table. After a bit of a rocky start to the Davis Era, things are good in Chapel Hill. The anxiety from earlier this year is dead and buried.

IN HIS WORDS


"[UNC] has shown from the beginning that they want me the most. I definitely see it. They have shown up to all of my AAU games so far. Before the Final Four they came down and visited me at the school which was shocking. I mean they had to get ready for a big game. But that definitely shows the dedication they put into their recruiting." -- Jackson to Rivals.com

“I texted with [North Carolina head coach Hubert] Davis before they played the UCLA game and gave him my opinion on what that game was going to be like and all that. It’s always all love with him and all love around there. I liked watching them. They don’t play as many guys as other programs do, so [the tournament run] surprised me a little. Obviously Coach Hubert knows what he’s doing, though. It seems like all the coaches and the players are always on the same page.” – Jackson to Rivals just before the Final Four

“I’m always in contact with Coach (Hubert) Davis. He’s always giving me updates talking about what’s going on there. They have a lot of legacy and a lot of winning there. Obviously the GOAT, Michael Jordan, went there, so you have some big shoes to fill if you go there. It’s definitely a winning atmosphere.” – Jackson to Rivals in mid March