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GG Jackson ready to fill ‘big shoes’ at UNC as No. 1 recruit

GG Jackson ready to fill ‘big shoes’ at UNC as No. 1 recruit
GG Jackson represented the United States on the U18 National Team. (Courtesy: @gregupnxt/Instagram)

RIDGE VIEW, S.C. (BVM) — Growing up, GG Jackson was coached by his father, Gregory. Together they would make multiple runs at a championship at the youth level, but they never took one home. For GG, that’s something that sticks with him.

One of their seasons ended on a last-second shot. GG did not take it and his team took home second place that season. That moment strengthens him to this day.

“I was mad that I didn’t take it,” GG said. “I feel like that made me way more competitive.”

Fast forward to the present and it is hard to find a team that GG would not take the final shot on.

Jackson is not only a North Carolina commit, but he is the No. 1 player in the country for the Class of 2023. While playing for Ridge View High School in Columbia, South Carolina, he is living the life of being the most coveted player in the nation. It is likely a little stressful, but Jackson takes it with stride, using it as long term motivation.

“I took it as a blessing,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to learn how to deal with things like that if you want to make it to that next level.”

Jackson’s 6-foot-9, 210 pound athletic frame makes him stand out from the rest, allowing him to make nearly any play on the basketball court. Holding 14 Power 5 offers, Jackson decided that the Tar Heels were the best fit for him, committing on April 27.

“They stressed to me the most that they wanted GG Jackson,” Jackson said. “They kept saying it in those exact words. I constantly felt the love from them. It was definitely a family atmosphere.”

With the prestige that the North Carolina program carries and the prowess that Jackson has as a recruit, he could very well be the face of one of the biggest powerhouses in the sport, a pressure that Jackson embraces.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of different greats that came from North Carolina, so I have big shoes to fill. But I feel like there’s no challenge that I can’t step up to and accomplish.”

For Jackson, the expectation was never to become the best player in the country, but now that he is, it is a title that he does not plan on giving up.

“It’s been a surprising journey,” Jackson said. “My freshman year I stopped looking at rankings. Guys being from South Carolina don’t get too many looks. But guys like Zion and Ja have shined a lot of light on our state. I give a lot of credit to those guys. It’s still a big surprise to me, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to hold that No. 1 spot.”

After not winning a championship with his dad, winning has become all Jackson knows at Ridge View. When he entered high school, the Blazers were coming off of back-to-back state titles. As a freshman Jackson was able to contribute to a third in 2020, helping him become the player he is today.

“I was definitely nervous about how I would play, because I didn’t want to mess anything up,” Jackson said. “Luckily Coach Stoneman already had the guys in place to win another championship. That carried along with me. I feel like that put a championship mindset in my head. That put it in my mind and from there I just took off.”

Jackson built off of this and helped the Blazers take home another state title this past season, the first championship at the 5A level for any team from the Ridge View area.

Before Jackson takes his title aspirations to Chapel Hill, he hopes to repeat at Ridge View while also taking home the national and state Gatorade Player of the Year awards. 

If Jackson can bring his newfound winning identity to North Carolina, he should have no problem filling the shoes of the ones who came before him.

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