GG Jackson’s college decision is in, and it’s North Carolina for the five-star Ridge View High standout.
Jackson made the announcement Wednesday at a ceremony at the high school in front of a large contingent of media, friends and family. The 6-foot-9 forward picked UNC over home state South Carolina, Duke, Auburn, Georgetown and playing professionally with Overtime Elite.
Jackson is the second Tar Heel commit for the Class of 2023, joining top-15 prospect Simeon Wilcher of Roselle Catholic (NJ).
“The relationship Hubert Davis has in place with Jackson and his family is strong, and the momentum UNC has on the court is undeniable,” Rivals Basketball Recruiting Director Rob Cassidy told The State this week.
The Tar Heels are coming off a trip to the NCAA championship game, return most of last year’s team and add three prospects for the Class of 2022. With Jackson and Wilcher in the fold for Class of 2023, UNC can build that class around two marquee players.
UNC offered Jackson on June 15, the first day coaches could contact rising juniors in the Class of 2023. Jackson said he and his father both got emotional when they got the phone call from UNC coach Hubert Davis to tell him about the offer.
“Me and my dad just put our phones down and all we could do was cry and thank God for all the blessings he has given us,” Jackson told The State days after the UNC offer. “Me and my dad dreamed about that school for a long time. I didn’t watch a lot of college ball growing up, but he had me surrounded by North Carolina stuff.”
Davis and UNC stayed steady in his pursuit of Jackson despite South Carolina and Duke gaining momentum in the process. The Tar Heels made the last in-person pitch when Davis and assistant Jeff Lebo flew to South Carolina and met with Jackson and his family at Ridge View, four days before the Tar Heels’ Final Four matchup against Duke.
South Carolina looked like the team to beat a few months ago as visions of having Jackson play for his hometown team got fans excited across the Columbia area and rest of the state.
But USC fired coach Frank Martin, who extended Jackson one of his first offers in 2020 and built a strong relationship with him and his family over the past two years. When Martin got the Massachusetts job earlier this month, one of his offers went to Jackson.
It is the third time since 2017 that blue blood programs UNC and Duke have gotten top basketball talent from South Carolina. Hammond School guard Seventh Woods committed to the Tar Heels in 2017 and ended up playing at South Carolina a season before finishing at Morgan State.
Spartanburg Day’s Zion Williamson picked Duke over South Carolina and Clemson in his nationally televised announcement in January of 2019. He ended up being the No. 1 overall pick of the 2020 by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Jackson arrived at Ridge View his freshman year after playing in nearby Camden growing up. Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman remembers seeing Jackson, who was 6-foot-6 at the time, and thinking he had a chance to be an elite national prospect.
Jackson started most of his freshman year but came off the bench near the end of that season. Stoneman was impressed with Jackson’s demeanor during that process and how he didn’t become frustrated.
Jackson has put in the work to be one of the top players in the country, and offers starting rolling in as he rose in the recruiting rankings. Rivals and On3 ranked him as the No. 1 prospect in the country for 2023 while 247Sports Composite has him fifth and ESPN sixth.
“I think his continuous improvement — you saw him as a freshman and what he was able to do as a sophomore and now as a junior,” Stoneman said. “He has really expanded his game and will continue to do so.”
This season, Jackson averaged 22.9 points, 10.9 rebounds this season in helping the Blazers to the Class 5A championship. It was Ridge View’s fourth championship in five years.
Jackson was named SC Gatorade Player of the Year and invited to attend Team USA mini camp in April.
With his college decision out of the way, Jackson must decide his plans for his senior year of high school. His options include staying at Ridge View and playing for Joshua Staley, who was introduced as the Blazers new coach before Jackson’s announcement Wednesday.
Jackson could follow Stoneman, who is taking over the nationally ranked Oak Hill program or he could end up at another high-profile high school program.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.