With the August 25 start date for the FIBA World Cup rapidly approaching, training camps for the festivities are already well underway. For Team USA, their roster consists of several high-profile talents headlining the charge, though Memphis Grizzlies star big Jaren Jackson Jr. seems to have specifically caught the eye of the club’s head coach, Steve Kerr, in preliminary preparations.
During a recent interview, the four-time NBA Champion as headman of the Golden State Warriors opened up on the improvements and advancements he’s seen from the 23-year-old compared to his previous stint from 2019 whilst serving on the USA select team.
“He’s filled out quite a bit. He’s bigger, stronger, got more experience so he’s more confident with things that are going on on the floor,” Kerr said of Jackson. “He recognizes all that stuff and he’s a really great young player.”
Jackson has been quite vocal about his current play along with his excitement to finally be serving as a member of Team USA this summer and has publicly encouraged Grizzlies fans to get ready for what’s to come during the rapidly approaching tournament.
“Just enjoy it. We’re playing for the country, we’re playing for everybody at home. Putting that ‘USA’ on your chest means a lot. It’s important to us. We’re going to go out there and try to make y’all proud. Get this done and then it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming,” Jackson told Michael Wallace of Grind City Media.
Outside of Kerr’s acknowledgment of his bulked-up stature and improved on-court mentality, a lot has changed for the better for Jackson since participating on the select team four years ago.
Over this span of time, the big man has come across an All-Star nod, two All-Defensive first-team selections, and, most recently, was awarded the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts in 2022-23.
Jackson is coming off a career-best campaign where he posted stellar averages of 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game while shooting a highly efficient 50.6 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from deep through 63 games played.
Coming into the 2023 FIBA World Cup tournament, it’s largely expected that the Grizzlies stud will serve as one of the key contributors for Team USA in their go for gold.