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VOL. 7 | NO. 23 | Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jackson Showcases Skills for Grizzlies

By Don Wade

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For a day, Joe Jackson again was wearing a blue Memphis jersey – a No. 3 Grizzlies practice jersey.

University of Memphis graduate Joe Jackson had a chance  to show his game to the Grizzlies in a workout Friday.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

Jackson, who averaged 14.1 points with 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals as a senior at the University of Memphis, was one of six NBA-hopefuls working out for the Grizzlies on Friday, May 30. He finished his audition at the team’s practice facility in FedExForum by knocking down 16 of 25 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers from five different spots around the arc. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin hit 15 threes in the same drill.

Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger came away impressed with Jackson, even saying, “He’s a guy whose game may translate better to the pro level where he can play with a little more space.”

At 6-1 and 167 pounds, Jackson is undersized for an NBA point guard. After shooting 44.7 percent from 3-point range as a junior, when he was the Conference USA Player of the Year, he fell off to 27.4 percent as a senior.

“He’s got a good jump shot that will keep getting better,” Joerger said. “His range on his shot looks to be a short three, and that’s what you see with guys coming out of college. But I don’t see anything flawed in his mechanics where he won’t be able to shoot the long three.”

Outside shooting, of course, is but one part of Jackson’s game that is up for inspection.

“In the NBA, I’m a smaller guy,” Jackson said. “So I gotta show that I’m relentless on defense. It’s like a job interview. Actually, I look at it like it’s a tournament every day. Gotta go win every day.”

The previous day Jackson was in New York working out for the Knicks, where, with Phil Jackson running the show, Jackson received a chance to play in the triangle offense. He said he has workouts scheduled with Houston and Dallas next week and expects to get in a dozen or more before the NBA Draft on June 26. The Grizzlies hold the 22nd overall pick in the first round, but do not have a second-round pick.

Jackson is considered a long shot to get drafted, especially in the first round, but he’s not necessarily looking at things that way.

“Man, it would be so good I wouldn’t even know what to think,” he said of the possibility of being drafted by the hometown NBA team. “I know it’s not out of the picture. It could happen.”

Even if Jackson isn’t drafted, recent Tiger teammates Adonis Thomas and D.J. Stephens have shown it’s possible to crack the league – at least on 10-day contracts – without being drafted.

What does Jackson have to prove to NBA teams?

“He’s gonna have to be a guy who’s a shot-clock killer defensively, pick guys up full court and makes it tough for the other team to get into their offense,” Joerger said. “A change-of-speed guy, comes in and pushes the basketball. He gets in the paint, especially to his right hand, pretty well. His adjustment will be that it will be difficult at times to get all the way to the rim. He’s gonna have to learn how to hit the seven-or-eight-foot jumper, or floater.”

Said Jackson: “I don’t think nobody can stay in front of me. It’s definitely my advantage, being lower to the ground. I just gotta use it through offense and defense and not just with the ball in my hands.”

Wilbekin, who has been working out with Jackson in Florida, described him as “tough” and “quick” and said one thing about Jackson surprised him: “He’s really funny; I didn’t know that about him.”

The other players working out for the Grizzlies included 6-11 forward/center Clint Capela (France); 6-7 Stanford forward Josh Huestis; 6-10 Oregon State forward Eric Moreland; and 6-8 forward Adin Vrabac (Bosnia).

Joerger said of Capela: “He’s got a 7-foot-4 wingspan and can do some things athletically. We liked him a lot.”

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