Why college basketball recruit GG Jackson would reclassify

G.G. Jackson finally answered the biggest question everyone has been asking since he decommitted from North Carolina to explore “other options.”

On Saturday, Jackson announced he will play college basketball for coach Lamont Paris and the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Now that he’s committed to the hometown team, he’ll reclassify from the 2023 to 2022 recruiting class, he said in an Instagram post: “I will like to announce that I will be reclassifying to the class of 2022, committing to the University of South Carolina to further my career and education.”

In layman’s terms, that means he has enough credits to graduate now from Ridge View High School and enroll at South Carolina for this school year.

So why would a recruit reclassify?

What does reclassifying mean? Why would someone reclassify?

Reclassifying in a sports sense means a prospect is changing the year they intend to enroll in college. While it could mean moving that graduation a year into the future, it can also mean moving up and essentially skipping a grade.

High school student-athletes typically reclassify to get an earlier start on college competition. It’s becoming increasingly popular for recruits in various sports, though it’s more prevalent in basketball and football.

There are also financial incentives now to leaving high school sooner. With the inception of name, image and likeness and other professional leagues like the NBA’s G-League and Overtime Elite, the option for the most talented high school recruits to get a jump-start on making money can be enticing.

In the “one-and-done” era, it makes sense that highly touted high school recruits who are being told they have what it takes to play at the professional level might want to get to the pros as soon as possible.

That appears to be the case with Jackson, who said he wanted to be “in the best position to reach my dream goal which is the NBA” when he broke his original college commitment to North Carolina — which was out of scholarships for the 2022-23 season. Jackson’s performance at the NBA Players Association’s Top 100 camp held in June in Orlando, Florida, sparked conversation that he might want to pursue a path that gets him to the NBA sooner than later — that’s where reclassifying and starting college now come into play.

Jackson is 17 years old. He’ll turn 18 in December.

The prep school route

Some athletes opt to reclassify and attend a prep school for an extra year of high school. Taking the prep school route might happen when a recruit has some kind of academic issue, but that’s not always the case. Prep schools also offer an avenue to mature physically.

Athletes typically attend prep school in the year after graduating high school, thus making them a part of the following year’s recruiting class.

Devin Carter is a recent example of a high school athlete who reclassified using a prep school. Carter was initially a member of the 2020 recruiting class. After committing to South Carolina, he decided to take a post-grad year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire before joining Frank Martin and the Gamecocks in Columbia in 2021.

In Carter’s case, he took the prep school route because South Carolina did not have any scholarships available in the 2020 class, and he also was taking time to recover from labrum surgery.

Jake Bentley and AJ Lawson also reclassified

Jackson will join a small club of Gamecocks who have reclassified in their respective sports in recent years. The most notable examples are former South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley and former point guard AJ Lawson.

Bentley was initially a member of the class of 2017 but joined the team in 2016 after his dad, Bobby Bentley, took a job on Will Muschamp’s staff.

Lawson was coming out GTA Prep in Mississauga, Ontario, and was initially slated to be in the 2019 class. The four-star recruit joined the Gamecocks in the 2018 class after reclassifying.

Finishing high school in three years

A key part of reclassifying and moving up a year is making sure you’ve got all your high school credits needed to graduate early. As The State has reported, Jackson met that criteria.

The NCAA requires that high school students finish 16 core courses before graduating and attending college.

These courses are designed to be taken over a four-year period, so cramming them into three takes a lot of planning and commitment.

This story was originally published July 23, 2022 4:49 PM.

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Michael Sauls is The State’s summer sports intern. He is an award-winning student journalist who attends the University of South Carolina where he is the managing editor of The Daily Gamecock.

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