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Isaiah Jackson named to SEC All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams

Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky) gets up for a block vs. Vanderbilt
Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky) gets up for a block vs. Vanderbilt(Photo: UK Athletics)
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 1:26 PM EST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Kentucky freshman forward Isaiah Jackson was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams, the league office announced on Tuesday. Jackson was one of five players tabbed to the defensive team and one of eight who earned selection to the freshman squad, as picked by the league’s head coaches.

Jackson became the 28th freshman under John Calipari to earn All-SEC Freshman Team honors and the 29th first-year player during his tenure to earn an all-league honor overall. This season does, however, mark the first time since 1989 that neither of the coaches’ All-SEC teams included a Wildcat.

The Pontiac, Michigan, native exploded onto the scene in his third career game when he blocked eight shots against No. 7 Kansas. It was the most blocks in a game for any Wildcat since Willie Cauley-Stein had nine against Boise State on Dec. 10, 2013, and it was the most ever by a UK player against an Associated Press top-10 opponent in program history.

Jackson has swatted 63 shots on the season to lead the nation’s No. 1 blocking team. He leads the SEC with 2.6 rejections a game and is 14th nationally, through games on March 6. The 6-foot-10 forward has also induced 18 steals on the season.

Jackson has led the Wildcats in blocks in 19 of 24 games and has three or more swats in nine outings this season. With a block percentage of 12.8%, he ranks seventh in the country in that category. He has been the stalwart for UK’s defense that has held nine of its last 15 opponents to 40% or less shooting. UK’s defensive efficiency rating according to KenPom.com has hovered in the top 25 for most of the season.

Although he made an impact defensively immediately, Jackson has emerged offensively of late for the Wildcats, who have won four of their last six games.

For the season, Jackson is averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Over the last six games, he is logging 14.3 points and 7.5 boards per game and reached double-figure scoring in every outing. Jackson has two double-doubles on the season, both of which have come over the last six games. He’s also shooting 62.0% from the floor over that span.

Jackson notched 18 points and 11 rebounds against Auburn and had 13 points and 10 boards in UK’s 92-64 regular-season finale win over South Carolina.

He ranks seventh in the league for defensive rebounds per game (4.5), eighth in the league for total rebounds per game (6.8) and 10th for offensive rebounds per game (2.2), at the conclusion of SEC regular-season play. Jackson has snared a team-high 162 rebounds on the season and has double-digit boards in seven games.

In the second half of a win over LSU, after sitting much of the opening stanza with foul trouble, Jackson grabbed 13 rebounds after halftime. He had 15 total boards in just 16 minutes. It was the most rebounds by a UK player since Nick Richards hauled in 16 boards vs. Arkansas on Feb. 26, 2019. According to STATS, Jackson became the first player with 15 or more rebounds in fewer than 20 minutes played against a major conference opponent since VMI’s Eric Mann had 17 boards in 19 minutes against South Carolina on Dec. 28, 2000.

Jackson and the Wildcats begin action at the SEC Tournament on Thursday against Mississippi State. That game will tip at noon ET on SEC Network.