The 2023 champs are losing their three most dynamic pieces to the NBA. As is often the case in college hoops, to the victors go the draft picks — and so the draft picks go. It could wind up that UConn has three of them in June.
Ultra-athletic junior wing Andre Jackson Jr. will keep his name in the draft and forego his remaining collegiate eligibility, CBS Sports' Matt Norlander confirmed. Jackson joins teammates Adama Sanogo (2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player) and projected lottery pick Jordan Hawkins in darting early for the Association.
UConn isn't losing every big name, however. The Huskies will bring back point guard Tristen Newton, who announced his swing back to Storrs on Wednesday morning. They also will return one of the best bigs in the sport, Donovan Clingan, who declared his allegiance to the Huskies shortly after the end of the season. Clingan could be a lottery pick in 2024.
Jackson's jettison is a tough, though somewhat expected, departure. The 6-foot-6 wing is one of the best athletes in this year's draft class and was a do-it-all defender and playmaker for UConn on its way to a fifth national championship. Jackson was a vintage example of someone whose stats only told a portion of the story. He averaged 6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists while playing fewer than 30 minutes per game. Jackson's intangibles were undeniable; he was a menace of an assignment on scouting reports, a player who often exposed opponents' weaknesses with his quick-twitch skills and above-average hoops IQ.
Were it not for his inconsistent shooting, he'd be a likely lottery pick. Jackson is a career 42.8% shooter, with a 29.3% clip from 3. It speaks to his reputation as a teammate that he's been able to overcome his flawed shooting en route to almost certainly being selected on draft night (June 22).
CBS Sports draft expert Kyle Boone ranks Jackson 27th on his Big Board. His pick range is considered in the 25-45 area.
UConn has been holding steady at No. 2 in, but that was a projection that factored in Jackson being on the roster for next season. Since he's gone, the reigning national champs are expected to fall well outside of the top five heading into the 2023-24 campaign.