CHAPEL HILL—Junior forward Justin Jackson and the rest of the 2016-17 North Carolina basketball team met with the media on Tuesday afternoon in the Smith Center.
A week into preseason practice, Jackson discussed leadership, consistency, the NBA Draft process and more with GoHeels.com and other assembled media.
On stepping up as a leader
“It’s huge. Joel [Berry] and I know that everyone has to step up, but for us, we’re probably the two guys that have played the most consistently, other than maybe Kennedy [Meeks], out of this group. So we know that we have to step right into that leadership role, and if we can do that and carry everybody else along, I think we’ll be alright.”
On replacing Brice Johnson’s leadership
“Everybody has been pretty active, pretty talkative. Probably Nate (Britt), Joel (Berry), and myself probably have been the biggest whenever it comes to that leadership role, but everybody has been pretty active.”
On changes in his game
“I don’t know if necessarily you’re going to see anything different. For me, I know I have to be a lot more aggressive. We don’t have a 17 and 10 guy on the block anymore, other than I think Isaiah [Hicks], (who) has the capability of doing that. Not having Brice and Marcus, that leaves a hole, and somebody has to step up. So for me, I’m going to try and be as aggressive as possible.”
On asserting himself
“I’ve always done better whenever there’s more pressure on myself. Knowing that they’re not here (Marcus and Brice) and knowing that I need to do more, I think I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to stepping into that role and having to do a little bit more. We’ll see how it goes whenever the season starts, we’re just ready to get it going.”
On past inconsistency
“Honestly, I don’t even remember those inconsistencies. Those are what, last year, year before? So for me, I’m trying to move on from that, keep that out of my mind. It’s a new season. I feel like I’ve improved quite a bit over the summer. So I’m just going to try and go out there and always think next play. So if I can do that and keep on being aggressive, I’ll be alright.”
On lessons learned from the NBA Draft process last summer
“Honestly, I learned the amount of time that you really have to put into it. For a lot of us, we’re trying to make this a job, Lord willing. There’s a whole lot of things on and off the court that you have to put in, whether it’s sleep, diet, the amount of time you put in at the gym, and whatever it might be. It kind of opened my eyes hearing from some of the guys that are in the league, opened my eyes a whole lot. So if I can keep that going, keep my body healthy, and stuff like that, those are probably the biggest things.”
On how ready he is for the next level
“I feel pretty confident in myself. But it’s all about what I do out there on the court. I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been. So it’s all about once I get out in the lines. If I can do that, I feel pretty good about myself.”