Gophers coach Richard Pitino landed his first recruit in the 2019 class in four-star forward Tray Jackson less than 24 hours after his official visit this weekend.
Jackson, a 6-8, 205-pound standout at Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.), announced his commitment Monday.
“Minnesota was just different,” Jackson told the Star Tribune. “I’ve been on other visits, but when I got there it felt like the coaches and players were all welcoming and genuine. They said I was a priority. When it comes to recruiting, it’s not just about who wants you, but it’s about who needs you. When I got there, the players said: ‘You can help us get better and, ultimately, make history.’ That’s what I plan on doing.”
Jackson, ranked No. 56 and No. 94 in his class by ESPN.com and 247Sports.com, also made official trips to Oklahoma in June and Seton Hall on Aug. 29. The Detroit area native also considered Oregon, Missouri and Purdue.
Jackson could compete for a power forward spot next fall once the Gophers lose star Jordan Murphy to graduation. On his official visit, Jackson was able to watch Murphy and other Gophers play some games on their new Athletes Village practice court.
“Jordan is just a great player,” Jackson said. “He’s just an animal out there. Amir Coffey was really good, and Isaiah [Washington]. Just watching them you could really tell they’re developing guys. They play fast, and I feel like [their style] fits me the most.”
Jackson’s AAU coach, Tyrone Slaughter, raved about Jackson’s potential impact in the Big Ten.
“When you talk about athleticism, he clearly possesses that,” Slaughter said. “I think the areas I look at Tray are just his versatility as a player: his ability to handle it, shoot it and pass it. He does all of it well. The stronger he gets and more he plays, the more profoundly impactful he will become. His upside is really, really, really high.”
Jackson averaged 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and shot 38 percent from three-point range for Meanstreets, his AAU team.
Gophers fans might see mostly dunks with Jackson’s highlight videos.
“But I got a lot more in my bag than what people have seen,” Jackson said. “I know Minnesota will let me show that.”
The Gophers, who have four scholarships available for next season, have official visits scheduled with Breck forward David Roddy this weekend and Georgia native Jared Jones on Oct. 6. Their top target in 2019 is Rochester John Marshall’s Matthew Hurt, with whom Pitino has a scheduled in-home visit Monday. Pitino is also set this week to visit Hopkins big man Zeke Nnaji, who was offered a scholarship by Kentucky on Sunday.