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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    UConn’s Jackson will reportedly declare for the 2023 NBA Draft

    UConn guard Andre Jackson Jr. will reportedly declare for the NBA Draft but keep his options open for a possible return to the Huskies next season. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Junior Andre Jackson’s fingerprints were all over UConn’s national championship run.

    A respected team captain, Jackson made a big impact on and off the court.

    Now he plans to find out what NBA people think about him.

    According to an ESPN report, Jackson will declare for the 2023 NBA Draft but still keep his options open for a possible return to the Huskies for his senior season.

    A versatile and athletic 6-foot-6 guard, Jackson averaged 6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists as a junior.

    But statistics don’t tell his true value.

    Coach Dan Hurley often praised Jackson’s steady leadership, team-first mentality, elite defense as well as rebounding and play-making skills.

    Jackson’s most glaring weakness is his perimeter shooting. He converted just 28.1 percent from 3-point range and 43.2 percent overall from the field.

    Right after winning the national championship on April 3, Jackson stated that he wanted to come back next season and would only leave if coach Dan Hurley tells him it’s time.

    Five days later, Jackson appeared to be open to exploring his options when asked about his future following the victory parade in Hartford on April 8.

    “I’m talking with coaches right now,” Jackson said. “We’re going over it and discussing it.”

    Jackson’s strong all-around play during the NCAA tournament certainly helped elevate his draft stock. Several mock drafts project him to go in the second round.

    He’ll have a chance to improve his position while attending the NBA Combine in mid-May and during workouts with NBA teams. He must decide by May 31 – the early entry deadline – whether to stay in the draft or continue his UConn basketball career.

    He’s the third UConn player to declare for the draft this month, joining Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo.

    Hurley talked about Jackson’s future as well as their strong coach-player connection after the victory parade.

    “I just believe that Andre, Jordan and Adama are all NBA players,” Hurley said. “We’re having those conversations. We don’t want to do something that’s great for UConn and not great for Andre Jackson because Andre has given everything to us. We’ll get all the information. We’re talking to all the right people.

    “It’s a UConn and an Andre decision because we’re very connected. Sometimes it’s not like that with players but this is a different situation.”

    Jackson spoke about his fondness of Hurley.

    “He’s a fiery guy and I’m the same way, especially when I’m playing basketball,” Jackson said. “We have similar personalities in a way on the court. He just respects my effort and I just respect his effort to hold me to a standard. .. That’s definitely my guy.”

    In other news, forward Richie Springs is the latest UConn player to enter the transfer portal. He served a valuable role as a practice player during his career. He saw very limited action this recently completed season, averaging just 1.9 minutes in 19 appearances. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

    g.keefe@theday.com

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