• 63°

UNC’s Justin Jackson is entering NBA draft

RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina’s Justin Jackson accomplished his goals when he returned to Chapel Hill last season, both by improving his shot for the NBA level and helping the Tar Heels win a national championship.

Now the first-team Associated Press All-American is hiring an agent and entering the NBA draft.

The school announced Jackson’s decision Thursday, 10 days after the Tar Heels won their sixth NCAA title by beating Gonzaga. The ACC player of the year is projected as a first-round pick, with some mock drafts putting him at the edge of the lottery.

“I wouldn’t trade anything the last three years as a Tar Heel, especially getting the chance to win a national championship, which was unbelievable,” the junior said in a statement. “I feel I made a good decision last year to come back for my junior year. That has put me in a much better position as a basketball player and a person. I’m proud to know I will always be a Tar Heel.”

The 6-foot-8 wing from Tomball, Texas took advantage of new rules last season making it easier for players to declare for the draft and work out for NBA teams while maintaining their college eligibility provided they don’t hire an agent. He blossomed after an offseason of work, going from averaging 11.5 points and shooting 29.7 percent on 3-pointers through his first two seasons to 18.3 points while making a program-record 105 3s this year.

He also significantly improved his defense, including his effort to keep Kentucky’s Malik Monk in check during the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight after Monk scored 47 points in a December meeting.

“He did what our coaches and the NBA people advised him to do — get stronger and work on making more shots,” coach Roy Williams said in a statement.

The Tar Heels will lose at least three of their top four scorers with Jackson joining departing seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

It’s unclear if Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joel Berry II (14.8 points) will return for his senior season. Freshman big man Tony Bradley (7.1 points, 5.1 rebounds) told the AP after the title game that he will declare for the draft to get NBA feedback — though his father later told Inside Carolina that the family is still discussing options.

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Comments

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’

Education

West Rowan Middle eighth grader wins investment writing contest

Local

YSUP Rowan invites agencies to participate in youth-focused training

Nation/World

US backs waiving intellectual property rules on vaccines

News

As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage

News

NC lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

News

N.C. bill banning Down syndrome abortions nears floor vote

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19

Coronavirus

N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

Local

Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity

Local

Mocksville to dissolve police department

Crime

Blotter: May 5

Local

Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state

Local

Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman

Kannapolis

Back and better than ever: Cannon Ballers kick off inaugural season in Atrium Health Ballpark