Among the most efficient scorers among freshman in power conference hoops, Duke shooting guard Frank Jackson was a difference maker on the offensive end for stretches this season, putting points on the board in bunches on some nights. The third wheel in a talented Duke backcourt featuring Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, Jackson nonetheless emerged as a key cog for a Blue Devils team that finished as the nation's sixth ranked offense accord to KenPom. Averaging 10.9 points per game, Jackson entered the draft process without an agent, but ultimately decided to stay in past the withdrawal deadline after a solid showing in the first game of the 2017 NBA Draft Combine.
Jackson's intrigue at the next level starts with his solid physical tools. Standing 6'3.5 in shoes with a 6'7.5 wingspan, Jackson has average size and solid length for a shooting guard. However, he's a powerful and explosive leaper capable of finishing emphatically above the rim. Registering a 42-inch vertical leap at the NBA combine, the Washington, DC-born guard also possesses a strong first step that allows him to get to the basket with aggressive straight-line drives. Possessing a sturdy 202-pound frame, Jackson has room to fill out, tested as one of the top all-around performers at the NBA Combine and showcased his athleticism on both ends during his time at Duke despite playing through a stress reaction in his right foot that he didn't have surgically repaired until late May.
It is Jackson's ability to get downhill quickly to score as a slasher combined with his perimeter shot making ability that rank as his most appealing trait as an NBA prospect. Making considerable strides with his consistency as a jump shooter in the summer and fall leading into his freshman year, Jackson made his mark at Duke with 60% of his shot attempts coming from the perimeter in the half court according to Synergy Sports Technology, but also scored with solid consistency attacking the basket. Doing most of his damage playing off the ball attacking closeouts, the Lone Peak (UT) product found some success operating out of the pick and roll, and in hand off situations as well seeing some action playing on the ball as well.
Making 39% of his 3-point attempts over 5.7 attempts per-40 minutes pace adjusted last season, Jackson was a fairly efficient, productive perimeter weapon. A somewhat streaky perimeter threat who shoots the ball with nice touch and good balance both off the catch and off the dribble, Jackson doesn't have the quickest release, but gets a lot of air under the ball and possesses solid range. A valuable floor spacer and a threat to pull up from beyond the arc when his defender goes under screens, Jackson was an impact player on the nights his shot was falling at a high rate.
Aside from his jump shooting ability, Jackson does his best work making decisive straight-lines drives to the rim attacking closeouts or turning the corner and going right the basket in ball screen actions. A fairly crafty, athletic finisher with nice footwork around the basket, Jackson shot a well above average 57% in finishing situations in the half court, converted 48% of the floaters he attempted, flashing deft touch, and made some explosive plays finishing above the rim when he found daylight in close. Though he's adept at putting pressure on the rim attacking gaps off of hard in-and-out dribbles and basic crossovers, he lacks a degree of shiftiness as a shot creator unable to create separation at times and struggling to handle the ball against pressure.
Jackson's limitations as a shot creator coupled with his lack of court vision and questionable comfort level initiating offense make him less than effective as a full-time playmaker at this point in his career. Committing a number of careless turnovers early in the shot clock last season, Jackson was most effective playing a secondary ball-handling role. Not always adept at picking and choosing his spots or consistently utilizing changes of speed and direction effectively, Jackson is a score-first guard who could conceivably grow into a true combo, but is more of a true shooting guard who would be most comfortable alongside another dynamic playmaker at the moment. Dishing out only 2.7 assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted last season, despite the huge amount of scoring power alongside him in a free-flowing offense, Jackson has plenty of room to grow as a passer and decision-maker.
Defensively, Jackson shows solid intensity at times getting in a low stance and moving his feet, but also looked less than engaged both on and off the ball at times this season. Lacking a degree of lateral quickness to defend elite point guards and exceptional size or length to defend taller guards, Jackson could be a bit stuck behind the eight-ball defensively early on at the next level, but the former McDonald's All-American showed promise he was dialed in and has the competitiveness to make some strides on this end if he can play with more consistent intensity.
Jackson's foot surgery has kept him off the floor for the home stretch of the draft process, but he did himself a lot of good in the weeks leading up to his operation. A terrific athlete who likes to play downhill and shows flashes as a shot-maker, Frank Jackson has some clear-cut weaknesses as a playmaker and lacks versatility as a defender. Just 19 years old, the former Utah Mr. Basketball figures to have some potential as a combo guard who can provide a valuable scoring punch off the bench in the right environment and eventually grow into a more prolific ball handler and playmaker down the road.