GG Jackson withdraws from UNC: Nr. 1 recruit in the 2023 class chooses to explore opportunities outside of Tar Heels

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Less than three months after committing to North Carolina after Tar Heels’ unlikely Final Four race, the elite class of 2023 prospect GG Jackson announced Thursday night that he is resigning from Tar Heels. Jackson, who is ranked No. 1 overall in his class of 247Sports, wrote in a social media post that he intends to “explore other options.”

Jackson’s announcement followed a Thursday report by Travis Branham of 247Sports, indicating that the 6-foot-9 power forward is expected to be reclassified to the class in 2022 and announce his commitment to South Carolina “in the next two weeks.” As a junior at Ridge View High School just 15 miles from the South Carolina campus last season, Jackson averaged 22.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game while earning South Carolina’s Gatorade Player of the Year awards.

As his birthday is in December 2004, Jackson turns 19 in the calendar year 2023 and is therefore qualified – just barely – for the 2023 NBA Draft if he reclassifies and plays college basketball this season. As a likely one-and-done perspective, getting to college basketball a year ahead of schedule would give him the chance to reach the NBA a year earlier than if he remained part of the 2023 class.

Implications for UNC

Losing a commitment from a player of Jackson’s caliber stings for North Carolina, especially when UNC was considered Jackson’s “personal dream school”, according to 247Sports’ Branham. With his commitment and the commitment of five-star guard Simeon Wilcher, Tar Heels got off to an excellent start with the class in 2023.

Even for a program as high-profile as North Carolina, Jackson was on track to become the program’s No. 2 ranked in the 247Sports era behind Harrison Barnes. But his decision to seek elsewhere should not cause panic. Second-year coach Hubert Davis has clearly shown the ability to recruit, and the immediate future is still incredibly bright for Tar Heels.

With four out of five starters left from last season’s Final Four team and all 13 scholarships occupied for the 2022-23 season, Tar Heels sits as No. 2 in Gary Parrish’s Top 25 and 1 and is likely to be selected to win the ACC. It would have been complicated to figure out a way to incorporate Jackson into the UNC’s 2022-23 list from a scholarship and playing time point of view, and with Wilcher in the fold, it’s not as if Jackson’s release totally destroys the UNC’s 2023 class.

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