UConn notes: Don't measure Jackson's impact by statistics

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Gavin Keefe, The Day, New London, Conn.
·4 min read
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Feb. 24—Freshman Andre Jackson's impact on the UConn basketball team can't solely be measured by statistics.

He's significantly more valuable to the Huskies than his 2.9 scoring and 2.7 rebounding averages indicate.

Not all of Jackson's contributions show up in a box score or on game night. He brings energy, enthusiasm and also has earned the respect of his teammates, helping fill a leadership void during sophomore James Bouknight's absence due to an elbow injury.

Bouknight is back but Jackson continues to be a vocal leader.

"Dre brings just a real maturity and a real energy that's different than what James does," coach Dan Hurley said on Monday. "James has got a swagger and a confidence that he brings whereas Dre is a real captain type with the way he communicates with everybody and just his energy level.

"And since James has been back, he hasn't taken a step back because he's really good as a leader, even though he's just a freshman. He's probably our most vocal player."

This is not the freshman season that Jackson envisioned. His development has been stunted by a wrist injury that kept him out of seven games and COVID-19 related disruptions that impacted the Huskies as well as other college basketball programs.

Against Georgetown in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jackson played in sixth game since returning from his injury and only 10th overall this season.

Jackson, a versatile 6-foot-6 guard, is still trying to settle into his role on the team.

"Realistically, he's early to midway through the non-conference slate for a freshman just because of not being available in the preseason and then getting the wrist injury during the season," Hurley said.

"He's gaining a lot of valuable experience. He's getting more comfortable out there. I'd like him to be more aggressive offensively. His length and athleticism on the glass and defensively are real important attributes for us. But he's got to find a way by attacking more when he gets his hands on the ball in transition and the half court just to be more aggressive offensively when he's in there."

Hurley regularly raves about Jackson, a top 50 recruit out of Albany (N.Y.) Academy. He believes the freshman has star potential.

Since rejoining the rotation on Feb. 6 against Seton Hall, Jackson has rebounded well but been reluctant to shoot the ball, averaging 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game in the last five games.

Hurley continues to play Jackson important minutes.

"He's a huge part of our future but we also need him to help us win now," Hurley said.

Big East legend

Hurley occasionally runs into Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing, a former Big East and NBA great as well as a Hall of Famer, on the recruiting circuit.

"His humility is always surprising," Hurley said. "It's not surprising how they're playing or how they're shaped. They're really well-coached when you watch them on film. They do a good job throwing the ball inside, they're defending better, they run some really good things for their perimeter guys."

Georgetown, which was picked to finish last in the Big East preseason poll, entered Tuesday's action in eighth place.

Ewing faced UConn for the first time as a head coach on Tuesday. As a Hoya player, he went 8-1 versus the Huskies.

Block party

UConn senior Isaiah Whaley is one of the top shot blockers in the country, ranking fifth at 3.0 per game. He leads the Big East.

Whaley has nearly doubled last year's average of 1.53. He has a career high 48 blocks overall.

In the last 11 seasons in Storrs, only Amida Brimah had a higher block average, finishing at 3.5 in 2014-15.

Emeka Okafor is the single season record holder at UConn at 4.7 (2002-03).

As a team this season, the Huskies are sixth in the country at 5.6 per game.

News and notes

After starting six games when Bouknight went to the sidelines with an injury, junior Brendan Adams hadn't appeared in the three games prior to Tuesday's game. A healthy Adams is the odd man out in a crowded backcourt rotation. "He's gotta stay ready though," Hurley said. ... The top five teams in the Big East will receive a first-round bye in the Big East tournament. UConn was fifth in the standings prior to playing Georgetown. ... Georgetown senior Jahvon Blair is one of two players ranked in the top six in the Big East in both points (16.2, sixth) and assists (4.5, tied for fourth). He's also first in 3-pointers per game at 2.8. ... Hurley wore a Manchester City shirt during his Zoom call with the media on Monday. He got it as a Christmas present. "I'm a big fan of Champions League soccer. I coached at St. Benedict's Prep, which is the best high school soccer in the country. Claudio Reyna and Tab Ramos played there. So I became a soccer fan when I worked there." ... Up next: UConn hosts Marquette Saturday at 2:30 at Gampel Pavilion.