Gamecocks forward Gregory “GG” Jackson (Photos by Caroline Barry)

South Carolina freshman forward Gregory “GG” Jackson announced Friday he will be declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft. 

“USC has definitely helped me a lot,” Jackson said through a livestream on his personal Instagram account. “… Now, I’m declaring for the NBA Draft.”

Jackson, who graduated from Columbia’s Ridge View High School, is the highest-rated men’s basketball recruit in the Gamecocks program history, according to college recruiting website 247Sports.

He also was the youngest player in Division I college basketball this past season. He turned 18 in December. 

Jackson is projected to be selected in the late-first round of the NBA Draft, according to ESPN analyst Jonathan Givony.

“This is a very exciting day for GG and his family as they begin preparing for the next chapter in his career,” head coach Lamont Paris said in a press release. “… GG is and will always be a Gamecock, and I could not be more supportive of his decision to declare for the NBA Draft.”

Jackson, 6-foot-9, averaged more than 15 points and 5 rebounds this past season for South Carolina. The team finished 11-21, losing in the first round of the SEC tournament.

“I want to thank God and my family for always being there for me,” Jackson said in the release. “I also want to thank Coach (Lamont) Paris and the rest of the staff at South Carolina for giving me the opportunity to live my dream (of) playing in my home city and state.”

Jackson is the most recent player to leave the Gamecocks this offseason. Chico Carter, Daniel Hankins-Sanford, Ja’Von Benson and Tre-Vaughn Minott have already entered the transfer portal. Sophomore guard Meechie Johnson also declared for the 2023 Draft while maintaining his college eligibility, according to Johnson’s Instagram account.

Jackson improved as the season progressed, scoring 24 points in South Carolina’s final game. 

“This kid’s got a crazy career ahead of him,” said graduate forward Hayden Brown in a postgame press conference following USC’s final game.

The Ridge View product was originally committed to the University of North Carolina before deciding to reclassify from the 2023 class to 2022.

“There were a lot of ups and downs,” Jackson said in his Instagram livestream. 

Jackson was benched from the starting lineup after criticizing South Carolina’s coaching on Feb. 4 in a separate Instagram livestream. He re-entered the starting lineup Feb. 18 after beginning four games on the bench.

The most recent men’s basketball player from USC who was selected in the NBA Draft was Sindarius Thornwell in 2017. He played four seasons, making appearances for the Clippers, Pelicans and Magic.

The NBA Draft will take place in New York on June 23.

Gamecocks forwards Jackson and Hayden Brown

Jackson drives into the paint and tries to score against Mississippi State.