Way back in April of last year, Parker Jackson-Cartwright told PGU in an interview that while not every point guard is going to pick Arizona, “If you’re a good point guard, I think that’s the place to be.”
10 months later, Jackson-Cartwright pulled the trigger and committed to the same program that won its first national championship behind the play and leadership of PJC’s summer AAU coach.
Yes, that’s right, Arizona’s latest commit is mentored by Miles Simon, who is the head of the California Supreme Elite AAU team.
It almost seems too good to be true, especially when one considers that Arizona was in major need of a point guard in the 2014 recruiting class. And in PJC, that’s exactly what they got — a true point guard.
Jackson-Cartwright hails from Los Angeles and plays at Loyola High School, where last season he was a teammate with current Arizona walk-on Jacob Hazzard.
While he has an undersized physique – 5’7, 140 pounds – Jackson-Cartwright also boasts lightning quickness and a jaw dropping feel for the game. While he’s usually the smallest player on the court, Jackson-Cartwright has made a career carving up defenses with his play-making.
Don’t be fooled into comparing him to former University of Washington point guards Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas just because of his height. PJC is a different beast altogether.
“He’s a hard guy to draw a comparison for,” said C2C Hoops Senior Editor AK Murthy. “A lot of the successful short guys in recent years have been more of the hyper-athletic, potent scoring types, like Robinson or Thomas. But PJC is on an entirely different part of the basketball spectrum. He’s a cerebral, pass first play-maker who uses mental acuity before his physical gifts.”
“PJC’s greatest strength is his brain,” Murthy added. “He thinks the game. For someone with his size and his frame, it’s amazing that he’s still effective when he gets into the teeth of the defense. But that’s a testament to his intelligence and instincts as a point guard.”
Jackson-Cartwright might play the game about as instinctively as anyone at the high school level. If basketball IQ tests were a real thing, he would surely fall in the highest percentile.
On both sides of the ball, he anticipates every aspect of what’s happening on the court, rather than reacting to what is already in progress. In other words, he sees how a sequence will develop beforehand. This seemingly inherited trait allows him to be one step ahead, and is the heart of his highly advanced play-making skills.
Offensively, he has tremendous awareness of when to feed the ball inside or when to create off the dribble. His shot still needs some work, and college defenders will pose new obstacles, but it will be another year and a half before he arrives in Tucson. In other words, there’s plenty of time to polish up.
But the greatest intangible he brings to Arizona isn’t his skill as a basketball player. While many point guards are blessed with talent, few hold the same level of maturity and leadership as Jackson-Cartwright.
It’s a rarity to find an athlete as talented as Jackson-Cartwright, and even rarer to find one as articulate and thoughtful as he. Despite his undeniably youthful visage, those close to PJC joke that he’s speaks and acts like a 40 year old.
With a time-table already in place – Jackson-Cartwright will likely back-up TJ McConnell his freshman year – there will be plenty of time for the point guard to adjust to the physicality of the college game.
For now, Arizona fans will just have to be patient before they get to see the newest member of Point Guard U step onto the McKale floor. When he does, it’ll be worth the wait.