He may be short in stature, but Pierre Jackson posted big statistics last season.
The Baylor point guard led the Big 12 in scoring and assists, becoming only the fifth player from a BCS conference to accomplish that feat.
Jackson, 5-foot-10, helped Baylor win the National Invitation Tournament, the first championship of its kind in Baylor’s 108-year history.
Jackson hopes to be a first-round draft pick when the NBA holds its annual draft at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ryan Blake, the senior director of NBA scouting operations, believes Jackson has an outside shot at becoming a late first-round draft pick.
Blake likes Jackson’s high basketball IQ, his ability to explode to the basket and his fondness for getting his teammates involved in the offense.
“If you can score and pass, you become valuable,” Blake said Monday. “He can get to the [free-throw] line and he can knock down free throws, so he’s very, very valuable.
“He’s a celebral player as well to match the athleticism.”
Jackson knows only first-round picks are a lock to have a guaranteed contract. That’s why the Las Vegas native is hoping for the best on Thursday.
“I think I know a little bit about the game and I think I can be a good leader for whatever team I’m with,” Jackson said. “Also, I feel like I can add that spark of energy that not too many teams have.
“I can come in and score you a bunch of points, or just go in there and distribute the ball.”
Jackson led the Big 12 in scoring (19.8) and assists (7.1), and also finished the final four NIT games with double figures in points and assists. His ability to be a dual threat paid dividends for the Bears, and he anticipates that will roll over to the NBA.
“The great thing about Pierre is he has God-given ability that few people have,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “He’s very tough to keep in front of you.
“Combine that with an outside shot, and now it’s very hard to guard someone like that, because normally guys who are real quick can’t shoot, so you can back off of them. Or they can shoot, but they can’t get around you. He can do both.”
Jackson just hopes a minor injury he recently incurred won’t affect his draft status.
After working out for Boston, New York, Utah, New Jersey, San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Clippers — he also had an interview with Portland — last week Jackson had to cancel the rest of his NBA workouts because he suffered a minor acute patella injury to his left knee.
“I was just working out and I jumped awkwardly,” Jackson said. “I had an MRI and it’s nothing too serious.”
Jackson compares favorably to Chicago’s Nate Robinson (5-9) and Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas (5-9), because of their diminutive size. Robinson was a first-round draft pick (21st overall) in 2005, and Thomas was the last pick of the 2011 draft.
“There’s always caution to the wind when you have someone that’s undersized, and that is what Pierre Jackson is,” Blake said. “Pierre is a really, really good player, and I love what he does.
“He’s small, but he’s an explosive point guard and he has that winning mentality. If you’re not a first-round guy, then play your way into it and show your warrior mentality, and I think he has that.”