Rivals Crossover Series: No. 1s from 2016, Rashan Gary vs. Josh Jackson
The Rivals Crossover Series is a weeklong look at some historic figures in football and basketball, merging our two sports into one storyline.
In this piece, national football recruiting director Mike Farrell and national basketball analyst Eric Bossi look at the No. 1 player from each sport and compare their national influence and success. Here we look at the class of 2016.
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BASKETBALL: Josh Jackson
Bossi’s take: Jackson rose to the top of an absolutely loaded class of 2016, beating out several notables including current Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum. During his lone season at Kansas, Jackson was a difference-maker while earning first-team All-Big 12 and second team All-American honors. Taken fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns his NBA career has been a wild ride. He was named second team All-Rookie – after averaging nearly 20 points per game after the All-Star break.
He has had maturity issues and was assigned to the G League to begin the 2019-20 season after being dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies. He has since been recalled and is averaging 12.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game with 64 starts during 174 game, to date, NBA career.
FOOTBALL: Rashan Gary
Farrell’s take: Gary was such a freak athlete he could have played defensive tackle or defensive end in college and ended up being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft as a 287-pound linebacker. Gary’s career at Michigan was average with only 9 1/2 sacks in three years and he had 21 tackles and two sacks last season for the Green Bay Packers as a rookie. He has a promising future ahead of him.
And the winner is ... Phew, this is another close call. Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance in his first two years and since being recalled from the G League by Memphis, but has also been a lot for organizations to handle. Gary had a solid career at Michigan and played in every game as a rookie reserve. Jackson gets the slight nod here given what he’s shown he can do when at the top of his game.