Pierre Jackson: Can the Baylor Bears Point Guard Be a Successful NBA Player?

Shehan JeyarajahCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2013

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 21:  Pierre Jackson #55 of the Baylor University Bears brings the ball up the court against the Brigham Young University Cougars on December 21, 2012 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Baylor Bears have had a season that has perhaps not gone quite to plan. After a stellar recruiting class that included ESPN's third overall recruit, Isaiah Austin, and a returning team that reached the Elite Eight in 2012, expectations were high. After the regular season, the Bears finished only 18-13, sixth in the Big 12 and likely outside of the tournament. 

Easily the brightest spot on the Baylor Bears is point guard Pierre Jackson. Jackson transferred to Baylor last season after playing two years of junior college ball at the College of Southern Idaho and leading them to a JuCo National Championship. Since then, Jackson has been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12. 

This season, Jackson is averaging 19.4 points and 6.6 assists per game, both of which lead the Big 12 and are top 30 in the nation. There is no question that Jackson is one of the best players in college basketball, but will he translate to the next level? 

To start, let's check the experts. One of the leading scouting services, Draft Express, has Pierre Jackson rated as their 95th overall prospect and projected to go undrafted. On the other hand, CBS' Jeff Goodman has Jackson rated 38th and the ninth overall point guard. When it comes to guys outside of the first round, it becomes hard to differentiate. 

Pierre Jackson has many skills that will translate to the NBA. First and foremost, Pierre is one of the fastest basketball players I have ever seen. When he is in transition, it is nearly impossible to stay in front of him. He utilizes the pick-and-roll in order to create separation and blow right by defenders. Perhaps even more impressively, Jackson can stop and go on a dime, a skill that separates the John Walls of the world from the Derrick Roses of the world. 

Unlike many point guards coming out of college, Jackson has an NBA-ready jump shot. This season, his shooting percentages were down (43 percent from the field and 36 percent from three), but that is not typical of his game. He has shown elite ability to shoot from both a catch-and-shoot position, as well as off the dribble.

Last season was a great indicator to Jackson's NBA potential. He played next to freshman phenom Quincy Miller and future first-round pick Perry Jones III as the third option, averaging 14 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 41 percent from downtown. On an NBA roster, Jackson would always be a secondary or tertiary option and could easily average those percentages. 

Easily the biggest knock against Jackson is his size. He is listed at 5'10", but that is probably a stretch. Pierre will without a doubt be an undersized guy heading into the pros, and that has been a situation that many have struggled with coming out of college.

But it is something I believe Jackson can overcome. Pierre has been measured having a two-step vertical of 45 inches, and also has a unique ability to finish over guys who are bigger than him. He will struggle to defend bigger guys, but that is something any athlete will just have to live with. 

What will be an adjustment for Pierre Jackson will be learning to be the role player when he is used to being the star. This season, Jackson is averaging 14 shots a game and has the ball in his hands whenever he wants it. That's not going to happen at the NBA level. 

While Pierre may not be a top prospect coming out this year, he is well worth a flyer in the second round. Whoever picks him up will get a confident backup point guard of the future. At worst, you're getting J.J Barea. At best, why couldn't he be another Ty Lawson?