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Justin Jackson pulls out of draft, returns to UNC for junior season

North Carolina sophomore forward Justin Jackson will withdraw from the NBA draft and return for his junior campaign, the school announced Monday.

"I'm glad I had the chance to enter the draft and attend the combine where I was able to meet with a number of NBA executives and test my game against some of the top players in the country, but after discussing it with my parents and coaches and praying over this decision, the best choice for my basketball future is to return to school and play for the Tar Heels next season," Jackson said in a statement. "My dream certainly is to play in the NBA and going through the draft process this year was another step toward reaching that goal, but I've loved my first two years at Carolina and am excited about the upcoming season. It's going to be a fun year, I will be another year closer to earning my degree and can continue to develop as a person and a player."

Jackson averaged 12.2 points per game this past season. Multiple NBA executives told ESPN that Jackson was projected to go in the 40-60 range.

Jackson's return will make North Carolina a legitimate Final Four contender. The Tar Heels lose Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige, but return Theo Pinson, Kennedy Meeks, Joel Berry II, Isaiah Hicks and Kenny Williams from last year's team that lost to Villanova in the national championship contest.

North Carolina also brings in a trio of freshmen ranked in the Top 75: Tony Bradley (No. 16), Brandon Robinson (56) and Seventh Woods (58).