Terps' Justin Jackson to enter NBA draft after injury-shortened sophomore year

Maryland sophomore Justin Jackson is foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility and declaring for the 2018 NBA draft.

"After talking with my family and weighing my options, it's my desire to turn my full attention to preparing for a career in professional basketball," Jackson told ESPN. "I loved my teammates, many of them will be my brothers for life, and I will truly cherish the times I had playing in College Park. I also want to extend my appreciation to our great fans and all the support they showed for me. I will be a Terp for life."

Jackson will hire an agent in the near future.

The 6-foot-7 combo forward emerged on the NBA radar with a strong freshman season at Maryland, averaging 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from 3-point range, leading him to declare for the 2017 NBA draft. After a strong showing at the NBA combine last May, he elected to return to school for his sophomore season.

Jackson was one of the biggest standouts at the prestigious Adidas Nations camp, and was projected as the No. 14 pick in the first mock draft released on ESPN.

Unfortunately for him, his sophomore season was derailed by by a torn labrum injury in his shoulder he suffered in August, which caused his 3-point shooting percentage to drop dramatically to just 25 percent. Jackson initially attempted to play through the injury, but ultimately elected to have season-ending surgery in late December.

"I want to thank Coach [Mark] Turgeon and his staff for making this such a great experience over the past two years," Jackson told ESPN. "I feel like I really grew as a player and a person under Coach Turgeon's guidance. I came from Canada, a different country, and Maryland became my second home. This certainly was not an easy decision for me, as I felt like we had some unfinished business because of my injury."

Jackson is currently projected 41st in the ESPN Top 100. He will have an opportunity to elevate his stock during the pre-draft process once he shows teams that he is fully healthy and that his shoulder will not be a long-term issue, particularly in terms of proving his 3-point shooting percentages from his freshman season is sustainable. Jackson was identified as a prospect due to his strong physical tools, as he possesses a chiseled 220-pound frame and an exceptionally long 7-foot-3 wingspan that gives him significant potential as a multipositional defender at the NBA level.

According to Jackson, the timetable for his recovery was approximated at six months following his surgery, meaning he will not be ready to play competitive basketball at the NBA combine in May. He is close to being cleared for basketball activity in the next few weeks and will be available to participate in drills during private NBA workouts. Jackson will likely be cleared to compete in the NBA summer league in July, although the final decision will rest with the team that drafts him.