NCAA champ Andre Jackson Jr. proves value of little things

INDIANAPOLIS — Andre Jackson Jr. is confident enough in NBA talent evaluators to believe they understand his value.

It might be easy to dismiss Jackson and his 6.0 career points per game in three seasons at UConn including two as a starting guard if he hadn’t just helped the Huskies to a mildly surprising national title. During that run, all the little things the junior from Amsterdam, N.Y. stood out.

Jackson tied for the team lead in assists per game with 4.7. he was second on the team in rebounding with 6.2 per game and tied for the team lead in steals with 1.1 per game. He showed he could handle multiple positions including point guard on offense, guard multiple positions on defense and rebound above his size at 6-6, 210 pounds. And he was the guy who did the dirty work, diving on the floor or saving balls that were flying out of bounds to maintain possessions or create new ones.

Players like him don’t get picked in the lottery, and you can’t built a franchise with them as the centerpiece. But rare is the team that wins a title without such a player, or even with only one of them. That’s why the Pacers brought him in Friday as part of their first pre-draft prospect workout leading up to next week’s combine in Chicago and why Jackson trusts that his contributions shine through even in small-group workouts.

“I think the things that I do well definitely translate,” Jackson said Friday after the workout at the Ascension St. Vincent Center across from Gainbridge Fieldhouse. “Rebounding, playing defense, just being a good guy, somebody who can ignite the gym and be a voice on the court. I think all those things translate.”

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