Five-star recruit Jackson chooses Spartans over Terps
Jaren Jackson, a five-star basketball prospect from Indianapolis who at one time seemed to be leaning toward Maryland, announced Thursday that he will attend Michigan State.
Jackson, ranked No. 26 overall in the country by ESPN, picked the Spartans over the Terps and Purdue. Georgetown — where his father, Jaren Sr., had played — and Notre Dame were also in the mix.
“Coach [Tom] Izzo has established a culture and an attitude of winning, and I want to be part of that,” Jackson told ESPN.
The decision by the 6- foot-10, 225-pound power forward means that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his staff will continue to search for their first commitment for 2017.
Ikechukwu “Ike” Obiagu, a 7-foot, 245-pound center from Atlanta who ESPN ranks 42nd overall in his class (ninth among the five-star big men), listed the Terps among his final six schools Wednesday. Obiagu visited Maryland recently. In an interview with ESPN, Jackson said that a visit by Izzo the day after the coach was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame this month might have made the Spartans front-runners.
“It was crazy he came to visit me right after I was watching him on television from the Hall of Fame,” Jackson said. “I heard he was coming, but I did not know for sure he would show up. That meant a lot to me.”
Jackson’s announcement came on his 17th birthday.
“I didn’t plan it this way,” Jackson said. “I have done all my homework on each school ... and discussed everything with my family, and the timing just happened to land on my birthday,” Jackson said. “When you have a Hall of Fame coach like Tom Izzo, it makes a statement about the program.”
ESPN recruiting analyst Jeff Borzello said he wasn’t surprised to see Jackson choose Michigan State and that, despite this loss, Maryland can still compete with the Spartans for some of the country’s elite high school players.
“It’s always hard to go into somebody else’s backyard and come out with a high-level kid like that, but they’ve done it before,” Borzello said, alluding to the Terps’ recruitment of Diamond Stone away from Wisconsin.
“I think they have an attractive pitch, especially for a Midwest kid. They can say, ‘Hey, we play in the Big Ten. Your family can see a lot of your road games. You’ll be playing against a lot of familiar faces.’ ”
Borzello said he expects Obiagu to be “one of their primary targets” for the Terps, along with point guard Trevon Duval, the No. 5 ranked prospect in the country.
“There’s still a lot of time left,” Borzello said.