6-10 Gregory “GG” Jackson of Ridge View has been the talk of high school basketball in South Carolina this season. Not only has he led the Blazers to another region championship, last week he was promoted to #1 by Rivals in their national ranking of the 2023 class.
Jackson, of course, has drawn the recruiting attention of the basketball bluebloods. He’s taken official visits to North Carolina, Duke and Georgetown. He also has offers from Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M, Kansas, Virginia, DePaul, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, NC State, Tennessee,
This weekend he and his family will take an official visit to USC. Jackson has made many visits to USC over the past couple of years, and Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin and assistant coach Chuck Martin have become very close t him and his family thru the recruiting process.
“He knows more about South Carolina than the other ones even though he’s been on visits,” Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman said. “He’s been to probably four games already. He’s been on campus several times and met with the coaches a bunch. The official visit is just another visit in a way, but it is one that now everything gets paid for. I’m sure they’ve got some dinner set that’s going to be nice. I know they’ve already met with coach Chuck Martin and coach Frank Martin’s families, but the other coaches, they haven’t had the opportunity to meet their families yet and I think this will be a great opportunity for them to do it.”
The game of basketball probably won’t be a major topic this weekend between Martin and the Jacksons. Everyone in the party knows about the Gamecock program, and they can see what SEC basketball has become. This visit likely will go deeper roundball talk.
“I think mainly it’s continuing to build a relationship with GG’s family,” Stoneman said. “That’s probably the biggest thing they want to see, relationship building. It’s not just for the basketball. They’re not recruiting him as a basketball player. His family doesn’t want someone to just recruit him as just a basketball player. It’s what can you continue to do for my son for the rest of his life. It’s not a four-year investment, it’s a 40 year investment.”
The proximity to USC has to be a plus for the Gamecocks. Stoneman acknowledges that, but there’s a little more to consider than just the miles to Park Street in Columbia versus the distance to Tobacco Road.
“Where can he get to his highest level the quickest,” Stoneman said. “Maybe the Lord said his highest level is just to play college basketball, so which program can get him on the court the quickest. Some feel he’s got a chance to be a NBA player, so where can he get to the NBA the quickest. One of the things they have to look at is the NIL deals out there. With GG being a hometown kid, he might have better options than say a Duke, a North Carolina or a Georgetown because he’s a local kid and people within the community want him to succeed and be happy.”
Martin has tried to land national-level talent in the state in previous years but has come up short. He made a run at Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Josiah-Jordan James, Juwan Gary and Nic Claxton to name a few. Maybe it was his recruiting style, or maybe those players just wanted to leave the state. In Stoneman’s opinion, whether Martin is recruiting a top-level prospect or a sign and develop kid, he’s not going to change his approach.
“Coach Martin is one of those guys who is going to tell you exactly the way it is. He’s not going to sugarcoat anything,” Stoneman said. “If you don’t like it, at least he’s telling you the truth. GG’s mom and dad are very smart people, and GG is a very smart young man. They can see through people who are fake, and Coach Martin is not fake. I think that’s huge within their family knowing who Frank is and how Frank is not trying to do anything to please anybody, he’s just doing what he feels is right by his standards and by his team’s standards.”
This season Jackson is averaging 22 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. His team will open the state playoffs on Wednesday night.