We have reached the top 5 in our countdown of Outside the Huddle’s Top 50 boys basketball players. This is No. 3 in our annual preseason crowning of the top 5 players in northeast Indiana that we call the ‘First Five;’ our highest individual preseason honor.
The ‘First Five’ was started in 2018, following in the 35-plus year tradition of naming the top five area basketball players, started by a now defunct prep sports department in Fort Wayne. It is our honor to pick up and carry on that tradition with the ‘First Five,’ including our fourth group of honorees coming this season at the top of our Top 50 countdown.
No. 3 Jalen Jackson, Northrop
An up and down, more wide open system is only going to benefit Jackson’s game with his move to Northrop. Jackson showed that he could fit perfectly into any system already with the different nuances he has been able to showcase between Carroll and running with Indy Heat over the summer. Now that he can get out and run more as a senior, look for him to find another gear to shoot forward with. Because of his size, he’s not an ideal matchup for smaller guards and because of his handle, agility and speed, he’s a mismatch for most of the area’s longer guys that want to step out on him. He’s a prolific scorer and if you haven’t seen him in the summer yet, you will learn a lot about that now. Jackson can be a physical finisher around the basket and uses his body well to seal defenders on his way to the rim.
An underrated part of Jackson’s game is his strength against bigger guys. He found spots, especially in the high post, to cause significant damage last season. Whether he is looking to facilitate or attack from there, Jackson’s work from the elbows is another one of those successful nuances that he has found. But as a multidimensional player, he excels as a creator on the perimeter and has no issue making his own shot in the process. There really isn’t any time or place that you can lose Jackson for fear that he will knock down a shot or attack and finish about the rim with strength.
Jackson finished last season averaging 22.3 points per game with 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest.
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