Jaren Jackson Jr. was declared as the “best” and “most impressive” player per voting made by his fellow participants within Team USA’s four-day training camp in Las Vegas, via Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
The Athletic conducted the polls at the conclusion of the Vegas training camp and asked the 12 U.S. national team members who performed greatly in terms of intrasquad scrimmage, two scrimmages against the U.S. Select team, and also team drills. From the picks of his peers, the Memphis Grizzlies star emerged as an absolute standout.
“Jaren, particularly (Saturday), his energy and the way he went to the glass and went to the foul line every other possession,” said New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson. “He was just really a force (in the Saturday scrimmage against the U.S. Select Team).”
Jackson Jr. is being viewed as the defensive heart of the nationals heading to the World Cup in the Philippines. Boasting his length and uncanny interior defense mechanisms, he notably led the NBA in blocks per game (3.0) last season en route to being named the Defensive Player of the Year recipient.
“I do a lot of different things,” Jackson said. “I’m guarding a lot of guards on the perimeter, I can get caught in those switches. I have to pretty much protect the rim every single time (for Memphis). You’re going to run into that. You just have to manage it. I think I’ll be fine. I’ve never cared about (not fouling).”
Brunson, Josh Hart, and Tyrese Haliburton each obtained two votes from the polls, while the names of Brandon Ingram, Paolo Banchero, Bobby Portis, and Anthony Edwards were mentioned once.
Cade Cunningham, who was on the Select Team and delivered an impressive showcase against Team USA in their first two scrimmages, was also given consideration per a vote.
After a grinding training camp in Vegas, the Americans are now preparing against Puerto Rico on Monday for their first friendly matchup ahead of the FIBA World Championships.