GG Jackson’s USC-over-UNC decision was about earnings, on-court time and not a better team

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·2 min read

In David Travis Bland’s (7/25) ode to University of South Carolina Gamecock teams, he celebrated the arrival of basketball star GG Jackson who, he said, “kick(ed) the University of North Carolina to the curb.”

Wait. What?

How about a little truth?

When Jackson completed his junior year at Ridge View High, he quickly committed to UNC.

At the time, it was understood that Jackson wanted to stay in high school for his senior year then play for the Tar Heels in 2023-24.

But over last Spring’s season of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and All-Star games, Jackson blew up into the nation’s number one prospect.

He became the target of other big-time players and “agents” who assured him that he was wasting a year and delaying his ascent to the NBA by staying in high school.

During this time, Tar Heel coach Hubert Davis still held a last scholarship open for Jackson if he did decide to “reclassify.”

Reclassifying would allow Jackson to begin his college career a year early.

Jackson continued to assure Davis that he was staying in high school . . . until he wasn’t.

Yes, Jackson changed his mind. He’s a Teenager.

Davis, having gone ahead and signed Pete Nance of Northwestern — the son of former Clemson great Larry Nance — now had no room for Jackson.

Even if Davis had room, Jackson would have had to share time and stardom on a veterans-studded team which made the NCAA championship game last year.

Instead, new Gamecock coach Lamont Paris undoubtedly explained to Jackson that if he stayed at hometown USC, he would be The Man, a probable All American and maybe even the NBA’s number one draft choice.

The outcome: By leaving high school early, Jackson indeed has moved up his professional earning potential by a year.

Then again, while the Tar Heels are marching to another NCAA tournament, a possible number one seed and a favorite for the title that barely escaped them last April, Jackson will be playing for a Gamecock team that will be fortunate to finish NINTH in the SEC.

Now who’s getting “kicked to the curb”?

Curry Kirkpatrick is a retired sports writer who worked for three decades with Sports Illustrated. In June, he was inducted in the sports writers hall of fame. He lives in Hilton Head, SC and is an UNC fan.