Updated: Jun 11, 2022
After taking a hiatus due to COVID last year, the 2021 Tarkanian Classic returned with 175+ teams spread across multiple gyms in Las Vegas, NV over the span of a week. Featuring elite basketball competition in prep and high school divisions, the must-see annual December high school tournament provided evaluators an opportunity to watch the prestigious NBA Academies in Africa and Latin America in addition to programs from around the U.S., Canada, and even Germany.
Pro Insight was on hand to cover the event and caught up with Gregory “GG” Jackson of Ridge View HS (SC) and Team CP3 (NC). Playing a national schedule, the Ridge View Blazers have had the opportunity to play in premier tournaments against elite teams around the country. Jackson, the nucleus of the group, is the highest-ranked player in South Carolina since Zion Williamson. The five-star forward is a walking double-double and oozes positional size, versatility, and defensive upside.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Jackson talked about growing up in Carolina blue, his skills as a drummer, the best piece of advice from his dad, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Gregory “GG” Jackson, from Columbia, South Carolina:
Pro Insight: Firstly, do you prefer to be called Gregory or GG more?
Gregory Jackson: Either one. More like going to school a lot more, there people [have] been calling me Greg a lot, but more like family has been calling me GG. Like it really doesn't matter to me.
PI: How did you get to where you are today?
GJ: I would say I started taking basketball serious serious about my 7th grade year when I started playing AAU and my dad, he came up to me, he was like “is this what you wanna do?” and I was like “yeah,” 'cause I always wanted to go to the NBA so he was like “is this seriously what you wanna do?” And I told him “yeah.” So that's when like after 8th grade, he got me here at Ridge View and I just took off from there.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
GJ: I was a quarterback in football. Football…I had liked football a little bit more than basketball, but like… then I got scared to get hit so that's why I was so fast. But then I turned to basketball and that's when I just left football.
PI: Any other athletes in the family?
GJ: My dad was a defensive end in high school. He was really good. And my mom…my mom was a track star at I think Hillcrest or Crestwood and Sumter.
PI: What are your current measurements?
GJ: My height, I'm around 6’9”, 6’10”. I weigh like 205 to 210 [pounds] I think, and I believe my wingspan is also 6’10”.
PI: For those that aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and play style?
GJ: I feel like my greatest strengths are I'm able to take bigger guys off-the-dribble and also bully smaller guards in the paint and I'm very versatile on both ends of the floor. Defensively, I can guard just about every position and I can grab the rebound and push it in transition.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
GJ: Definitely more ball control. I've seen now that teams are going to double team me more, so I have to be stronger with the ball.
PI: Who do you model your game after and try to study on film?
GJ: As a kid, I would watch guards, 'cause I wanted to be like a point guard so bad 'cause they always had the ball in their hands — but I was just like that bigger lanky kid. And then when I got older I started watching like a little bit of Porzingis, Giannis, Shaq — all those big guys and then I guess I just kind of mixed it all in and now we’re here. Yessir.
PI: How do you feel about the perception that UNC is the favorite for your recruitment?
GJ: I feel like they're definitely number-one on my list right now. It's been a dream school since day one. My dad always had me in Carolina blue, but also I want to keep my options open, 'cause other schools have other ways to get me to the league and they also have good programs and stuff.
PI: What's your current timeline in regards to visits?
GJ: I have an official visit on January 21 at Duke and then we're gonna try to look to get another official visit after that.
PI: Besides Duke and UNC, who is involved and who are you hearing from the most, lately?
GJ: Definitely [University of South Carolina] 'cause it's right there at home. They've been watching me for a very long time. And definitely Georgetown — I took an official visit there, as well. So those schools definitely, yeah.
PI: Obviously, there are so many talented players in the class of 2023 including yourself, who do you like in the class?
GJ: I haven't played against most of them, but I played against Baye Fall at the Top-100 Camp. And he is alright…I feel like I should be higher up on the list, but I'm not really worried about rankings and stuff like that. I'm just trying to get to that next level.
PI: What are your thoughts on playing more of a national schedule with your high school? Has that been very beneficial for you?
GJ: Yessir, it’s definitely a big step up for the Ridge View program. This is the first time we've been traveling like this, and these next two years are going to be the same way so we are just going to have to adapt to it.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
GJ: I play drums in the church. My dad is a preacher and I sing a little bit, but only when I'm forced to, 'cause I don't like to do it. That's about it.
PI: What's your favorite song to vibe to when you play the drums?
GJ: Never Would Have Made It by Marvin Sapp, 'cause it's like a little chill song, but also like you can feel it when they sing it.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists when trying to get hype or getting in the zone?
GJ: People might think I'm weird about this, but Bruno Mars (laughs). Yeah, I don't listen to music just for the beats like he has like some cool stuff in his music.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
GJ: #progression, 'cause like from my freshman year to my sophomore year, it was a very big change and then from sophomore year to now is definitely a big leap so hopefully I can continue to progress my game.
PI: If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed — what three personal items would you bring?
GJ: I'll bring Coach Stoneman, 'cause he has a lot of survival skills. He’s in the military. A ball to keep me company.
PI: (A couple of his teammates were hanging out and listening in to this question) Would you bring them along?
GJ: Ahh nah (answering without hesitation and laughing). I guess like a gun or something to keep me protected or something like that or like some food or something.
PI: What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
GJ: My dad told me…he's said “don't strive to be a person of success. Strive to be a person of value, 'cause people want somebody of value.” Like, as far as like if you're a good salesman like other companies want you, 'cause you're of value to them, so that's what he said.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
GJ: Definitely achieving a dream at the highest level. Doing all that you can to try to achieve it. Yessir.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
GJ: First purchase… ooo (exclaims with excitement) I'll probably buy like three drum sets. Just for me (laughs).
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
GJ: Definitely a professional drummer for different artists.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
GJ: Smart, funny, friendly, and competitive.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
GJ: The person that can win big ball games. Yessir.