NEW YORK — Josh Jackson fielded all the softball questions and said all the right things. He’d love to play in Boston if the Celtics drafted him. He’s just excited for whatever opportunity comes next.
But there was one issue the ex-Kansas star couldn’t dodge Wednesday: his inescapable past.
An affidavit released in mid-March claimed that Jackson threatened to beat a Jayhawks women’s basketball player during a confrontation in December 2016. Prosecutors alleged the top NBA draft prospect “kicked the driver’s door and rear taillight” of a car owned by McKenzie Calvert, causing less than $1,000 in property damage.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to vandalism charges and filed for a diversion agreement that involved him enrolling in an anger management program. As expected, questions about the 20-year-old’s mental makeup have followed him to the 2017 NBA Draft, where he could be taken as high as third overall Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Jackson defiantly addressed those concerns Wednesday.
“A lot of the character issues that you guys have probably been reading, it’s really been blown out of proportion a lot,” Jackson told reporters. “Obviously, I did a few things wrong that I shouldn’t have done. But it’s been blown up a lot, just because I am who I am.
“The people who are close to the situation, the teams that are considering drafting me that I’ve talked to, they know exactly what’s going on. They know exactly what’s happening. It’s just a minor mistake.”
The Celtics reportedly have been very high on Jackson despite his off-court issues, although they’re rumored to be leaning toward taking Duke’s Jayson Tatum at No. 3. But no matter where he ends up, the 6-foot-8 swingman wants every NBA team to know that the past is in the past.
“I’m a humble guy. I’m a competitor, a really high-character guy,” Jackson added. “They know what I bring to a team. They know I’m competitive and I’m all about winning. So, whatever team gets me, I’m going to do the best I can to help that organization win as many games as we can.”
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images
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