The Duke Blue Devils had four losses against 105 wins at home since 2009-10, but Demetrius Jackson and the Notre Dame FIghting Irish just made that five.
"When you have someone like (Demetrius Jackson), he should handle the ball," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He is a pro. He is a big-time player. (Jackson) on the court gives you a chance to beat anybody because he understands his weaponry and he doesn't get tired. He is an old, strong guy and he is perfect mentally. He is just really poised. He is a terrific player."
Coach K is one of the most respected coaches in the country, so when he says something positive about a player that isn't on his team, it's something to pay attention to.
Jackson is the starting point guard for the 12-5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, playing 36 minutes a game while averaging 17.5 points and 5.4 assists in 17 games. The guard from Mishawake, Indiana has been given the keys to the offense in his third year at Notre Dame, and leads one of the most efficient offenses in the country (120.9 offensive rating is fifth in the country according to basketball-reference).
Jackson is an explosive playmaker, able to get above the rim while spotting up and knocking down jumpers from the perimeter. In three games against ranked opponents this season (Virginia, Pitt, Duke), Jackson has three turnovers - that's really impressive with how often he is asked to be the primary ballhandler for the Fighting Irish. Jackson is shooting 37 percent on 3-point attempts this season, complementing his ability to burst past his defender and get into the paint to create scoring opportunities. It's hard to not be excited to watch Jackson play when you know he can posterize someone on any possession, like he does here against 7-foot-2-inch Purdue center Isaac Haas.
Defensively, his size is going to be an issue in the NBA. Jackson measures at 6-foot-1-inch, which impacts his ability to rebound and contest shots. He does have a 6-foot-5-inch wingspan, which allows him to disrupt passing lanes and hound guards. He has quick hands, and will try to slap down at the ball when players take him into the paint. His best tool is his speed, allowing him to work around screens and close out on shooters.
Jackson is a tough player, and can fight over screens to stick with defenders. He plays with his head up, watching for lazy passes that he can get his fingers on for a deflection. When Jackson is able to get a deflection, it's more often than not going to result in a layup or dunk on the other end - he's so fast that nobody is going to catch up to him if he has a head of steam.
The Nuggets drafted their franchise point guard in the 2015 draft, in Emmanuel Mudiay, a teenage prospect with tantalizing physical tools. It is too early to tell if Mudiay isn't going to be a star, but the presence of a franchise point guard shouldn't be cause to abandon drafting point guards for the next seven years. While there may be better options available in free agency, it is unlikely that there will be a less expensive option.
Mudiay's physical tools also provide the Nuggets with the option to play him alongside a smaller guard at times. Mudiay has the size and strength to guard bigger shooting guards, leaving his backcourt partner free to mark point guards. For a player like Jackson, that means that he can come in off the bench and add another ballhandler to the offense. Jackson should be comfortable playing with another primary ballhandler - he shared the backcourt with Jerian Grant, a 6-foot-5-inch guard that was drafted by the New York Knicks.
Jackson gives the Nuggets a backup point guard that is a threat to score but also isn't going to be careless with the ball. The Nuggets second unit next season is likely going to feature Will Barton, a 6th Man of the Year candidate, Wilson Chandler, and one of either Jusuf Nurkić or Nikola Jokić, all capable NBA players. Those players don't need another player to take shots - they need a player that can get the offense open shots and play defense. Those seem like things that Jackson would be able to do well as he gains experience under the Nuggets coaching staff.