KU’s Josh Jackson eyes title, undefeated season

By Andrew Johnson, USA TODAY Sports

KU's Josh Jackson eyes title, undefeated season

Source: MSN Sports

Josh Jackson isn’t running away from the expectations. He’s welcoming them.

When Kansas signed Jackson, the No. 1 recruit in the country (via 247 Sports and Rivals), it gave a program that had already won 12 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles a chance at continuing one of the more impressive runs in college basketball history.

The Big 12 streak is constantly on the minds of fans in Lawrence, Kan. There’s no avoiding it. The players don’t want to be the team to end it. And if Kansas wins another conference title in 2017, it would match John Wooden’s record of 13 in a row with UCLA.

The 6-8, 207-pound Jackson didn’t choose Kansas with regular-season history in mind. He eyes a much bigger goal.

“We’re going for a national championship this year,” Jackson says. “We’re also trying to go undefeated. Hopefully that happens. I know it’s hard to do, but we’ve got the power to do it.”

Even mentioning 40-0 is dangerous in college basketball for the simple reason that it has never been done. Kentucky came close in 2014-15 before losing in the national semifinal to Wisconsin after starting 38-0. Still, that desire to win everything is exactly why coach Bill Self recruited Jackson to Kansas.

“I think the consensus on Josh is that everybody loves his talent, but what people probably enjoy watching him do as much as anything else is compete,” Self says. “He’s a fierce competitor. And he’s certainly one of those team-first, ‘I’ll do anything to win’ guys.

“He’s obviously very talented. But his try level and his competitive level is about as high as anybody I’ve ever been around.”

Jackson knows the task won’t be easy. He will be the likely replacement for Wayne Selden Jr., who declared for the NBA draft after a breakout junior season. Kansas brings back a dynamic backcourt led by Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham. That team lost to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite Eight. In his few months around the team, Jackson already senses a different mind-set.

The Big 12 streak is constantly on the minds of fans in Lawrence, Kan. There’s no avoiding it. The players don’t want to be the team to end it. And if Kansas wins another conference title in 2017, it would match John Wooden’s record of 13 in a row with UCLA.

The 6-8, 207-pound Jackson didn’t choose Kansas with regular-season history in mind. He eyes a much bigger goal.

“We’re going for a national championship this year,” Jackson says. “We’re also trying to go undefeated. Hopefully that happens. I know it’s hard to do, but we’ve got the power to do it.”

Even mentioning 40-0 is dangerous in college basketball for the simple reason that it has never been done. Kentucky came close in 2014-15 before losing in the national semifinal to Wisconsin after starting 38-0. Still, that desire to win everything is exactly why coach Bill Self recruited Jackson to Kansas.

“I think the consensus on Josh is that everybody loves his talent, but what people probably enjoy watching him do as much as anything else is compete,” Self says. “He’s a fierce competitor. And he’s certainly one of those team-first, ‘I’ll do anything to win’ guys.

“He’s obviously very talented. But his try level and his competitive level is about as high as anybody I’ve ever been around.”

Jackson knows the task won’t be easy. He will be the likely replacement for Wayne Selden Jr., who declared for the NBA draft after a breakout junior season. Kansas brings back a dynamic backcourt led by Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham. That team lost to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite Eight. In his few months around the team, Jackson already senses a different mind-set.

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