USC will host LSU Saturday afternoon seeing a third straight win. The Gamecocks have a chance to get back to .500 in the SEC and create a little bit more excitement among their fanbase for the final two weeks of the regular season. That’s good for the present. But the future will be sitting the seats behind the Gamecock bench.
6-10 GG Jackson of Ridge View will take his official visit this weekend with his parents. Jackson recently was tabbed by Rivals basketball recruiting experts as the #1 prospect in the country for the 2023 class. He’s the epitome of the in-state player Frank Martin has not landed during his ten seasons with the Gamecocks. Nationally elite players from the state in recent years like Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Josiah-Jordan James, John Butler Jr. and Juwan Gary all passed. Jackson could be the one to break the trend.
“Out of all the places in the world you can go, there’s no place like home,” said Jackson’s father Greg. “You can get excited about this, this and that, but at the end of the day, there is no place like home.
Jackson’s mother is a USC grad, and his sister plays basketball at Columbia College. Right now, the idea of GG playing for the hometown team is highly appealing to the Jacksons. Greg Jackson said he’s seen once before where one of the nation’s best stayed home and made the most out of it.
“Looking at what A’ja Wilson accomplished being a local girl, just saying I can follow in her footsteps and do the same thing, achieve it from the boys’ side,” Jackson said. “A national championship, a statue out front. Elevate the men’s program to another level. And it’s going to take guys like him to do it.”
The Jacksons have been close to Martin and his program for years. GG has made several visits and has a strong relationship with Martin and assistant coach Chuck Martin. He’s also had a close-up view of the ups and downs for the program. Right now, Greg Jackson said they like what they see.
“With the win the other night, that was huge,” Jackson said. “They are really fighting. I think the guys are playing hard. Got the chance to talk to PJ Dozier the other night. He came to the game the other night, him and Chris Silva. We just like the direction the program is going in. One thing I can say about Coach Martin is he stresses the defense and physicality, and he really does a good job of preparing you if you want to go to the next level.”
And for those who think Martin’s in-your-face style of coaching in a game might be a turnoff to the Jacksons, that’s not the case.
“He gets that at home, so that’s not a problem for a kid like him,” his dad said. His mama gets him all the time.”
Basketball won’t be such a big topic of conversation during the visit. That’s been well covered in the past. Instead, Jackson said they are very interested in hearing from Martin what USC has to offer in the new world of the NIL, something they learned about in their earlier official visits to Duke, North Carolina and Georgetown.
“Main thing is we want to see how they present the NIL thing for a hometown guy, what they have in a plan for that,” Jackson said. “See how well they are going to market someone like him, of his caliber. Is he going to be in line to be one of the faces of the program? If he stays home, that has to be a big deal.”
Jackson will have one more junior visit available after this weekend. His father said Florida State was at their game Wednesday night and invited them in. They also are looking at Texas A&M and Auburn if they decide to take a fifth visit. A decision could come this spring if every box has been checked, and if not, definitely before his senior season.
“We want to make sure we get it right and not have to change mind,” Jackson said. “We want to get it right the first time. Just like they (coaches) do due diligence, we are too. We hear things, and we’re like well, we’ve got to see how that plays out.”
Another potential decision for the Jacksons is where to play the senior season. They’ve already turned down offers from the pro leagues Overtime Elite and the G-League. But Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman is leaving for Oak Hill Academy after the season, thus many will wonder if GG will follow.
“We haven’t even gotten to that as far as putting that on the table as a family yet,” Jackson said. “With him in the thick of the playoffs, just trying to get through this right now and focus on that.”
GG Jackson, who is averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds per game this season, will play in his second-round state tournament game Friday night. The family will then head over to USC for the 48 hours that could change the future of Gamecock basketball under Frank Martin.