Elmarko Jackson, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound primary point guard from South Kent, Conn., made an oral commitment Thursday night to play basketball at Kansas.
Jackson — he made an official visit to KU Sept. 9-11 — chose KU over Texas, Villanova, Miami and Notre Dame.
He made the announcement on the 247Sports channel on YouTube. He sat behind a table filled with five baseball caps of his finalists, choosing KU by placing the Jayhawk hat on his head.
Jackson is ranked No. 18 in the recruiting class of 2023 by 247sports.com, No. 28 by ESPN.com and No. 63 by Rivals.com.
He visited the campus of all his finalists.
At one point he also considered Kansas State, UCLA, Virginia, Louisville, Michigan, VCU, Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State , Oklahoma, Penn State, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Syracuse, Tennessee, Georgetown and Wisconsin.
“As far as Kansas goes, it’s tough to beat,” Jackson said during his commitment ceremony.
“The coaching staff is great. Their track record is excellent. Coach (Bill) Self is next level. He is one of the best coaches in the country. For me to go to college, I’d rather be a guy who works precious minutes and helps my team win. I think Kansas is a great opportunity for me to be a winner and to be key to my development as a player.
Jackson was asked to reveal KU’s vision for his college career.
“In the short term, as a rookie, I have the opportunity to earn a starting spot and valuable minutes and help a great team eventually become better,” Jackson said. “Long term, being part of the Jayhawk family. During my visit, I saw a lot of players coming back (on campus). They keep coming back. It’s a family where they love and care for each other.
Eric Bossi, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, offered his take on engagement Thursday.
“Elmarko is a Bill Self guard if I’ve ever seen one,” Bossi said. “I like just about everything about him, his maturity, his approach and the physical nature of his game. He wants to get down, through defenders and around defenders. He never goes too high, never goes too low. He takes the guys aside and drives them in. But the way he descends and gets to the rim is what stands out about him.
Bossi said Jackson flourished this summer as a rookie in part because of “better decision-making.” There was a question is he more of an athlete than a talented guy? What I love about him is that you’ve never seen him go online saying, ‘Teams are sleeping on me this or that.’ He just worked and the work on his game showed that. He has finally reached the level he should be.
Adam Finkelstein, director of scouting at 247Sports and host of Thursday’s YouTube pledge video, said Jackson “became one of the most recruited prospects in the country this summer while playing for We-R1 in the Under Armor Association”.
Finkelstein added before the announcement: “Whichever school is able to land, Jackson will add one of the best playmakers and college-ready prospects in the class. He has a unique combination of size, strength and stance speed, with an almost unrivaled ability to descend.
“What has taken his game to unprecedented levels in recent months has been the progression of his decision making and game sense. Jackson has learned to vary his speeds, make reads from pick- and-roll and create space in the mid-range area. Simultaneously, he also uses his physical tools to change the game on the defensive side of the pitch.
Russ Wood of Rivals.com recently wrote of the Marlton, N.J. native Jackson, “He’s a solid physical guard with a great first step. If he puts his defender on his hip, it’s a wrap. A good two-way player with a high IQ and equal tenacity. I was impressed with how Jackson doesn’t just use the ball screens to get down or to shoot. He made good reads and good passes. He definitely performed above his current ranking (playing for Delaware-based WE/R1 at an Under Armor Association AAU event in July).
In June, Jackson won the MVP award at the Under Armor Future 60 camp held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
A year ago, he averaged 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on 47% shooting at the Academy of the New Church in Pennsylvania. He decided to transfer his senior season.
“I felt I had grown a lot under the guidance of my ANC coaches and teammates. For me, in order to maximize my development, I felt like South Kent was the next step for me” Jackson told SI.com “Coach (Raphael) Chillious (at South Kent) is a very prestigious coach, a respected coach. He could teach me a lot about the game as a point guard when it comes to half court and full court reads, become a better leader and refine my full game. Then when I get to college, it’s not as much of a speed bump as it is for most other players.
KU has now received three player commitments from the Class of 2023.
Jamari McDowell, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound senior combined guard from Manvel High School, Texas, who made an official visit to the Kansas campus in late August, signed on at KU on September 24.
McDowell, the No. 42 ranked player in the recruiting class of 2023 according to 247sports.com and the 113 ranked player according to Rivals.com, chose KU over Texas A&M, Xavier and Wake Forest.
On August 2, KU received an oral commitment from Chris Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound senior point guard/shooter from Montverde (Florida) Academy. Johnson chose KU over Arkansas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Texas, UConn, Auburn, TCU, Houston, Tennessee, UCLA, Creighton, Georgia and others. Johnson is the No. 32 ranked player in the recruiting class of 2023 according to ESPN.com, No. 49 by 247sports.com and No. 55 by Rivals.com. Johnson — he is a native of Missouri City, Texas — plays for the Houston Defenders AAU team.
KU currently has at least two scholarships to give out when recruiting. Cam Martin and Kevin McCullar are the seniors on the 2022-23 squad. Additional scholarships would be available if non-seniors turned professional or entered the portal.