Former Michigan State Basketball Star Jaren Jackson, Jr. Looks to Dominate the NBA

Jaren Jackson Jr (3J) uses the knowledge given by Coach Tom Izzo as a Michigan State Spartan basketball star to terrorize the NBA as a Memphis Grizzlies player.
Apr 3, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) reacts in the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) reacts in the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Jackson Jr. has rapidly emerged as one of the NBA's premier defensive units, a testament to his tenure under the wing of Michigan State's legendary coach, Tom Izzo. Standing at an imposing 6'10" with a 7'4" wingspan, Jackson possesses the physical attributes necessary to dominate defensively. However, it was his time at Michigan State that truly honed his skills and instilled in him the defensive ways that make him a force to be reckoned with in the NBA.

Under Coach Izzo's guidance, Jackson developed a deep understanding of defensive principles and a relentless work ethic. Izzo's emphasis on toughness, discipline, and attention to detail laid the foundation for Jackson's defensive prowess. Whether it was studying film, perfecting his footwork, or mastering the art of rim protection, Jackson embraced every aspect of defensive play with unwavering dedication.

At Michigan State, Jackson showcased his versatility on the defensive end. He could guard multiple positions, switch seamlessly on screens, and disrupt passing lanes with his length and agility. His ability to protect the rim and block a lot of shots was particularly impressive, as he developed into one of the most feared shot-blockers in college basketball.

But it wasn't just Jackson's physical gifts that made him a defensive standout; it was his intelligence and instincts on the court. He had a knack for anticipating opponents' moves, rotating effectively to help teammates, and making timely defensive plays that swung momentum in his team's favor.

Jackson's defensive talent was on full display during his lone season at Michigan State. He averaged an impressive 3.0 blocks per game, earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and establishing himself as one of the premier rim protectors in college basketball.

Upon entering the NBA as the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, Jackson wasted no time making an impact on the defensive end. In his rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies, he showcased his defensive versatility, averaging 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game while anchoring the team's defense.

Since then, Jackson has only continued to evolve as a defensive force in the NBA. His combination of size, athleticism, and basketball IQ, honed during his time under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, has established him as one of the league's most feared defenders. As he continues to refine his game, the sky's the limit for Jaren Jackson Jr. on the defensive end of the floor.

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Jack Lintner

JACK LINTNER