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Kansas assistant says Suns’ Josh Jackson is a mix of two All-Stars

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) salutes his teammates after a three-point basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Lawrence, Kan., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Jackson scored 23 points in the game. Kansas defeated Baylor 73-68. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Phoenix Suns got their man.

With the fourth pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Suns selected Kansas forward Josh Jackson, believed by many to be the best overall prospect in this year’s class.

In his one season in Lawrence, Jackson helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record, another Big 12 regular-season title and a spot in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. Jackson averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season.

So what are the Suns getting in Jackson? Different people say different things, but it would be hard to find a more glowing description of the player than what KU assistant coach Norm Roberts offers.

Roberts joined Doug and Wolf Friday morning on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station, and shared his thoughts.

“He’s probably been the most competitive freshman one-and-done guy we’ve ever had,” Roberts said. “I’m talking about a kid who put both feet in the circle when he came to KU. All he wanted to do was win, he’ll do anything to win. If that means rebound, he’s going to rebound. If that means score, he’s going to score. If that means pass, he’s going to pass.

“He’s a guy that is ultra-competitive. He’s a guy that brings a competitive edge to your team.”

Considering Kansas has produced Andrew Wiggins (top overall pick in 2014) and Joel Embiid (third overall pick the same year) as one-and-done freshmen in recent years, Roberts’ comments hold a lot of weight.

Experts like to compare prospects to established NBA players. Roberts didn’t shy away from offering a comp of his own.

“I think he is a combination of a Kawhi Leonard and a Paul George,” the longtime coach said. “I think Kawhi, at first, wasn’t as good off the dribble and he’s gotten so much better. Josh Jackson is tremendous off the dribble and the thing about him is he is a tremendous passer. He’s got great vision.

“So I think he’s kind of a combination of those two guys. His body is going to get stronger. He’s a lot stronger than what he looks. The other thing that he does is he uses his quickness and length to his advantage at all times, like Kawhi and George do. When they go up against bigger people, they’ve got to use their speed, and Josh knows how to do those things.”

The Suns passed on Leonard in the 2011 draft, instead picking Kansas forward Markieff Morris at No. 13. Maybe six years later, they’ll be able to erase that painful draft memory with Jackson in the fold.

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