Twelve minutes to midnight, off of work, sitting on my couch with my laptop propped on my coffee table, and I’m about to break one of my cardinal rules of Purdue fandom. I should be finishing up homework for tomorrow or at the very least getting drunk, celebrating the fact it’s Wednesday night and that means two days off in a row. Instead, I have this window open and another one that at the moment simply reads: YouTube.com.
I have a rule. It is meant to make my life much easier. It’s meant to make my hours writing and researching more efficient, to make me not want to pull my hair out for wasting so much time. It is a simple rule. One that I have kept this entire time I’ve been at H&R despite the obvious reasons why it is a silly rule for someone who is supposed to write about Purdue athletics to have and one that probably makes T-mill want to pull his hair out.
I do not invest any time on a player that hasn’t committed to Purdue before they have committed to Purdue.
It is a rule that is only defensible in this way: there’s just too much chance for a player to change his mind or pick another school or not really be a target or whatever reason. I just can’t allow myself to go down that rabbit hole. These are young teens trying to make life choices grown adults would struggle with. I don’t want to know these kids before they pick because I don’t want to feel negative or positive towards them, or judge them because of a choice they make. I don’t want to invest time and start to crush on them before I know they’re a for sure thing.
Buuuuuuuuuuuut. We’ve got another countdown. After all the Biggie drama last off season, and the unlikely happy outcome of him choosing West Lafayette, I’m just the right kind of optimistic and punch drunk to go ahead and say screw the rules. Let’s get frisky. Let’s take a look at the possible Boilermaker and definite 5-star recruit.
So, here we go. Let’s learn about Jaren Jackson Jr. in the best way possible. Let’s go on a YouTube journey together.
Have I mentioned how horrible highlight tapes are? There’s something for spending that much time editing together clips for dramatic purposes, but as far as learning a player, there’s not much worse that you can have. So, in this package, we get a bunch of pieces of plays that shows off one really important thing: Jaren is fricken long. He is everywhere with those limbs and uses them to swat shots and throw it down.
But let’s be honest. He looks a little scrawny, and his jumper went in, but did so without any kind of aesthetic quality that makes it a viable scoring option in the B10. (This is where I start to plant my seeds of doubt because it’s important to protect yourself. Just remember, he hasn’t committed yet, you will want these holes in his game to come back to if he doesn’t.)
Let’s get to know the kid a bit more with an interview.
This lady is very into the MSU angle, and would much rather hear quick answers to questions that pop into her head than Jaren getting verbose. Cool. Seems like a well put together kid, well-mannered, and respectful. I like smart kids. We all like smart kids. Good, insightful answers, and as we saw with Biggie, how kids think they’ll fit into the system is absolutely huge. Pay attention to how he thinks he’ll fit everywhere. No mention of Purdue, but I’m not needy. We made the final cut. That’s enough.
Let’s see a video from DraftExpress and how Jaren felt about his experience with the U17 basketball experience.
Same name as mine is a solid joke about being a Jr. though better chance at succession is something that makes me worried about possible ties to South Carolina schools.
The pieces are there for Jaren to be the perfect modern big man. Unorthodox shot, but he gets it off quickly and he has a lot of confidence in it. Along with that, he has soft touch, an ability to use both hands, and the length and quickness to be a nightmare on the pick and roll game. His length and ability to move his feet allows him to protect the rim despite his slender frame. He looks like Chris Bosh on occasion, good touch, skinny, and lack of brute force.
Let’s take at one more highlight package of him actually playing with the U17 team.
We might already have the perfect comp on the Purdue roster. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the very best version of Jacquil Taylor - a rangy, twitch quick, super long, skinny big men that can be a matchup nightmare against almost anyone. He looked to struggle to finish strong in some of these clips, but he’ll draw a lot of contact just from being a half-step quicker than most bigs.
Which, by the way, if Jacquil improves this year and next, him alongside Jackson is a pretty absurdly long and fast front court that could be an absolute nightmare to try and guard. Throw in that Haas and Biggie might also still be here in a year, that skyline on last year’s team could look like a collection of two-story duplexes compared to this potential huddle of Sears Towers with Space Needle arms.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, unfortunately. I broke a rule looking into Jaren the recruit, but I refuse to get excited for what could be until he signs. That’s the key. Don’t get too high. Don’t get too low.
There’s been a late push that Jaren might be headed to Izzo’s Spartans, and after last year’s Biggiegate, there’s certainly enough irony there to make me believe it as a possibility.
But we’re halfway through September and Coach Painter still hasn’t landed his guy or any guy. The truth is, if Purdue misses out on Jackson, too, it’s gonna be hard to keep playing cool. The recruits are dwindling, particularly ones with this many stars and this much upside.