Throughout a middling season, UConn (8-11, 3-4) has shown just how many holes they have on the team. The biggest being a second legitimate option behind Jalen Adams.
Coming into the season, there were numerous contenders for the role, from senior Rodney Purvis, to incoming freshmen Alterique Gilbert and Terry Larrier. Ineptitude and injuries have caused a change of plans for Kevin Ollie, as no one on the team has seemed prepared to perform on an elite level on a consistent basis.
Purvis has been inconsistent, Gilbert and Larrier have been dogged by injuries marking their excuses. Juwan Durham, who has been eased back from an ACL injury during his senior year of high school, has teased fans with his elite level talent, but he is stil just being worked back into a full time role, and has been inconsistent.
However, it seems like freshman Vance Jackson has finally stepped up to the plate, finally giving Jalen Adams an accomplished running mate.
Jackson, a freshman forward from Los Angeles, has churned out two consecutive AAC Rookie of the Week honors, showing his ability throughout the entire league. Even while UConn struggles in conference play, Jackson has succeeded with Adams at the helm, recentl posting a career high 17 points in a loss to SMU.
While other players may have stronger nights in certain games, such as Kentan Facey’s dominating double-double in a victory against Temple two weeks ago, or Purvis’ 16 point performance against ECU, Jackson has shown the ability to be consistent. More than anything else, consistency is what UConn has desperately needed all season long.
Facey has begun to step up as well recently, churning out several double-doubles, but Jackson has shown a consistent scoring and playmaking ability that has been lacking next to Adams for most of the season. On top of that, Jackson and Facey’s performances become more important to watch when considering their positions.
UConn has some of the best guards in the country, and that corps will only get better next season when they get healthy and if they can retain Adams. Developing a frontcourt, which includes Facey and Jackson, could help balance the team and give them a rebounding faction that they will help them win a conference title, and contend in the NCAA tournament.
If Jackson can continue to develop on the fly and become an elite level option, with Facey and Durham growing as well, it’s possible that UConn could salvage the season in time for the conference tournament.