The continuous chants of "We want GG" echoing throughout Colonial Life Arena during a Feb. 19 win over LSU were deafening. South Carolina fans made it known they wanted five-star power forward GG Jackson to come home.
While Jackson responded with a smile and threw up the spurs up hand signal, he wouldn't commit to the Gamecocks following former head coach Frank Martin's firing. Instead, he chose to join a UNC Chapel Hill squad that went on to compete in the 2022 NCAA National Championship.
In a last-minute decision, Jackson decommitted from the Tar Heels on July 14, making him the first to do so since JR Smith in 2003.
Jackson, a Columbia native, reclassified to the class of 2022 and joined the South Carolina men's basketball team on July 23. He became the highest-ranked recruit in program history to commit to the Gamecocks, with P.J. Dozier being the most recent top-50 player.
"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. NOW LETS HAVE FUN FAMS! #HometownHero," Jackson posted on Twitter.
As the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2023, Jackson led Ridge View High School to a 20-11 record and the Class 5A State Championship. In that championship game, he finished with a double-double and blocked four shots in the Blazers' 65-57 win over Fort Dorchester. Jackson ended his junior season with an average of 22.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.25 blocks and 1.25 assists per game.
Jackson, who won't turn 18 years old until December, said he can't believe how well basketball has worked out for him thus far.
"I'm still a kid to all this. I never would've thought I would make it this far in basketball," Jackson said to Rivals' Krysten Peek in May. "Being at No. 1, they try to say it's lonely at the top, but it is definitely not. You have the support of different guys like that and it's just a great experience."
With his reclassification, Jackson will be able to participate in next year's NBA Draft if he chooses to do so. Though, some believe he's not built for that level of competition yet.
"He's not a guy who's ready to be the focal point of a college offense from day one," 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein said. "He's a very talented prospect, there's a reason he was No. 1 in the country. But in terms of college ready go-to scorer, I'm just not sure he's ready to do that yet, but that is very possibly gonna be the role that is going to be thrust upon him immediately at South Carolina."
However, Jackson will have the opportunity to prove himself, as he joins a Gamecocks team that went 19-13 last season.
In head coach Lamont Paris' first few months with the program, he's had to replace nearly an entire roster that departed for the transfer portal. With the addition of Jackson, Paris has brought in three freshmen and five transfers.
"We identify areas that guys are going to be successful, then my job is to push a couple of buttons maybe to get them somewhere near those situations and then at that point, you know what happens, they do their thing," Paris said about his coaching philosophy during his introductory press conference.
While South Carolina hasn't been a school known for its men's basketball, landing Jackson could mean future success in recruiting. The Gamecocks will kick off the Paris era starting in November, with the first games of the regular season.