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Could Justin Jackson Be Evolving Into NBA Prospect?

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Let's keep things simple following the latest Bearcats beatdown and extension of the team's winning streak to 11 games. Another game, another night where Justin Jackson leaves fans, players and everyone inside Fifth Third Arena impressed. 

This particular night included 12 points, 7 blocks, 4 steals, 3 assists. Those assists were almost as impressive as swatting Staphon Blair's dunk attempt like a volleyball. Almost ho-hum. 

It begs the question I posed to Mick Cronin on Thursday -- can Justin Jackson play at the next level? 

I found his answer intriguing and one worth marinating on for NBA general managers constantly seeking intangibles. 

"When the season is over he continues to focus on gaining weight. Somebody gives him a chance, somebody that needs someone to do all the dirty work and be the junkyard dog -- Jerome Williams, Ben Wallace or (Kenneth) Faried or one of those guys. Help him gain 15 more pounds, turn him loose. Cause he will help you. He'll help you. 

"And he'll do whatever the coach asks him to do. He could care less about ever getting the ball. That will help make him valuable because everybody in the pros doesn't have that. Lot of guys want the ball in the pros. He understands. Pay me, I'll never take a shot." 

For the record, career averages for those guys mentioned: 

Jerome Williams: 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.8 assists. He made $51 million. 
Ben Wallace: 5.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks. He made $87.8 million in 16 seasons
Kenneth Faried: 10.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.0 blocks. In Year 3 in the league he's about to hit a jackpot soon. 

Flash isn't always necessary to make NBA scouts take notice. Justin Jackson is undersized for an NBA power forward, but Jason Maxiell was undersized as well. He's 6-foot-7 and played center during most of his NBA career. He's currently with the Orlando Magic and popped into UC's locker room prior to their win against South Florida. 

Players were amazed at how short he was for a player of his NBA credentials. Need reason to believe? There's another one. He's made $27.2 million and has $5 million more on the way over the next two seasons. 

Will Jackson be those guys or anything close? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. What we've learned in his rise this season is he's got a chance. 

What team couldn't use a player who contributes in the manner Jackson does? He affects every aspect of the game and provides energy for days. How many guys do you see like that in the NBA?

"You got to be great at what you can do," Cronin said. "He's embraced it and you see what's happened."  

I want to hear from you! If you have any comments, questions or suggestions shoot them to pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

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