Everyone loves effort. Hustle guys won't always be the flashiest guys on the court, but they create energy that an entire team can feed off of and emulate. Who comes to mind when I think of guys in the current Musketeers roster who has an infectious amount of energy and effort, you ask? Why, the 6'9 222lb freshman Jalen Reynolds of course.
I won't be the only one to say that Mr. Reynolds and his game are very raw right now. However, anyone with a decent pair of eyes can see that this guy has a massive amount of potential. Athleticism aside, Jalen has shown solid basketball IQ and awareness. During the Butler game, I remember commenting on how our ball movement was "SEXY". Yes I really have a way with words don't I?
But, what made me make such a comment was a picture perfect series of passes that created a wide open 3 from Dee Davis. Butler played a 2-3 zone for most of the contest. Now, during my playing days, I was always told that getting a pass into the post towards the middle of the floor opens up a world of options by which one could pick apart a 2-3 zone defense. Our good friend Matt Stainbrook has shown that very well. Well, Jalen did his best Stain Train impersonation by entering the post, making himself available to receive a pass from Myles Davis, kicking the ball out to Semaj Christon, who swung the ball to a wide open Dee Davis for a warm up quality 3 pointer. It may be one play, but it shows promise for Jalen's continued development and refinement.
Now, let's talk about athleticism. Mr. Reynolds has shown flashes of brilliance from an athletic stand point. A few thundering slam dunks, that one beautiful "Big to Big" alley-oop from Stainbrook to Jalen, and my favorite DENIAL versus UC. Jalen is one of those recruits whose highlight films and mix tapes are almost all dunks. If you've ever been early enough to a game to watch warm ups, you know that he has a propensity to dunk the ball really, really hard. While that's all well and good for getting the crowd fired up, it's not going to do much for finesse. This is what I mean by his game still being raw. Jalen also has the special talent for getting his hands on a bunch of rebounds. I didn't say "bring down" because he more often than not struggles with securing the ball. He hasn't had a dominant game on the glass since the walloping of Miami OH at the beginning of the season, but I'm confident he'll have many of those in due time.
Also, as much as we like to joke about it, Jalen's knack for fouling opponents was damn near legendary. Through a 5 game stretch (Evansville-St. Johns) where he logged no more than 9 minutes in a game, he quite literally "got his hacks" with 12 fouls in only 34 minutes of playing time. It seems he's turned away from his foul happy ways, however. Through his last 5 appearances, he's logged 42 minutes and only 7 fouls; having no more than 2 in a single appearance. As his game grows, I hope that trend continues.
Finally, Jalen has an asset that coaches all around love; a fantastic attitude. He's got the excitement of a walk-on celebrating a 3-point bomb even while on the bench. You gotta love a guy that doesn't play a single minute that is as excited and positive as a 4-year starter. You can't coach attitude and effort. Luckily for all of us, Jalen came pre-packaged with both.
Jalen has a lot of hard work to do before he becomes a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood, but I can't help but be excited about the promise he's shown in his first year of college basketball. That is why I'm sure he'll soon be one of your favorite Muskies soon enough.