Nobody to Naismith


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Jalen Pickett is gaining national attention with the Penn State Men’s Basketball team.

Noah M. Cerimele, Staff Writer

What is Penn St Basketball? To many it is nowhere near as recognizable as its football team or as fun. Well, I’d like to beg to differ. What is different now that Penn State basketball has never really possessed?  A true superstar.  But Jalen Pickett wants to start a list that only has his name on it. 

Pickett started his journey in basketball in a very unideal way.  As a Senior in high school, Pickett had zero stars, and just 3 offers from Siena, St. Peters and Canisius.  So with not much to choose from, he decided to stay close to home and play for Siena.

And right out of the gate he surprised people as he was Siena’s go to guy all year, having over 28% of the teams possessions run directly through him as either the scorer or the main passer. The people around Siena knew Pickett possessed the skills of a superstar, but the rest of the world didn’t.  So after 3 years at Siena, Jalen Pickett entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal, and he ultimately landed on the radar of first year head coach Micah Shrewsberry and joined Penn State. 

The people around Siena knew Pickett possessed the skills of a superstar, but the rest of the world didn’t. 

Pickett’s journey to Penn State was no easy feat, and getting Penn State back to March Madness would not be smooth the whole way either.  Starting the season at home for the first couple games and the standout among all others was Jalen Pickett as he put up an amazing 9 assists per game in the first games of the season, which included a win vs strong Big East competitor Butler.

Then Penn State traveled down to Charleston to face some heavy competition, The first game featured Furman, a team many might not know, but at the time of writing, they are 21-6 and in perfect position to get a bid to the NCAA tournament.  PSU hung on for the win to advance and play Virginia Tech, which they would ultimately lose, but they would immediately bounce back the next day defeating Colorado St. 

The story of these games was not the fact that the Lions went 2-1 and advanced to 5-1, but it was all Jalen Pickett.  The media was shocked by his abilities,  and well known and trusted college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said he was his early Nasmith player of the year: “First I have Jalen Pickett, he, scores rebounds and phenomenal passer, also doesn’t turn it over. He’s a legit stud.” That’s an amazing amount of praise from the man that dubbed LeBron James as the best high school athlete ever.

As Penn State’s season has progressed, so has Pickett, as he has picking up serious national attention. He was named to the top 20 for the Wooden award midseason watch list, before suddenly Penn State’s started spiraling out of control.  After losing 4 in a row and 8 of their last 11, they found themselves sitting in the bottom of the Big Ten standings. So when the fighting Illini came to town in a must win game to keep Penn State’s  NCAA tournament hopes alive, it didn’t look good.  Until Jalen Pickett showed up.

Pickett went above and beyond against Illinois, scoring a Big Ten season high 41 points with 8 assists to go with it. An absolute master class now, Penn State is 15-11 and their next two games come against the 2 worst teams in the Big Ten standings, which should make you think, can Jalen Pickett go from nobody to Naismith?