Jalen McDaniels may have established himself as one of the premier basketball players in the state of Washington. But the Federal Way senior won’t be sitting back and enjoying it anytime soon. There’s too much work still to be done with the Eagles.
FEDERAL WAY – Jalen McDaniels may have established himself as one of the premier basketball players in the state of Washington.
But the Federal Way senior won’t be sitting back and enjoying it any time soon.
There’s too much work still to be done. McDaniels’ ultimate placement in the pantheon of all-time Eagles hasn’t been set yet.
The 6-foot-10 former football player is very aware of the history that surrounds Federal Way basketball. Names like Donny Marshall, Jason Schmidt, Michael Dickerson and so many others have cycled through coach Jerome Collins’ program.
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“Great players,” McDaniels said. “Coach Collins has coached so many guys that make it to the next level. You listen to every word.”
McDaniels already knows where he’ll take his next step, once the current high school season ends, he hopes, in the Tacoma Dome next March at the 4A state tournament. McDaniels is headed about 1,700 miles south to play for Steve Fisher at San Diego State next year.
McDaniels takes not only that 6-10 frame that makes him a solid inside guy, but an array of skills that he’s garnered through hard work and even playing other sports along the way.
“Jalen is that kid that can play five positions,” Collins said. “He’s multi-dimensional.”
Mostly a forward, McDaniels easily moved to the post in a recent game at Todd Beamer when the Eagles starting post Malcolm Cola was forced to sit out with a slightly sprained knee. Even so, at times that night McDaniels was handling the ball against the press, dribbling and creating offensively.
“He can cover the point,” Collins said. “He’s got such quick feet.”
McDaniels learned footwork early on, when he was playing wide receiver for youth teams from the time he was in first grade.
“At first, I didn’t like basketball at all,” McDaniels said. “I played football. But my cousin, me and him always played.”
That cousin, Mantrell Worthy, currently plays for Montana State after a successful career at Eastside Catholic. But Worthy isn’t the most successful of McDaniels’ cousins in basketball.
That honor would go to Juwan Howard, late of the Fab Five at Michigan and the NBA. And maybe at least part of the reason McDaniels will be an Aztec in college, since Fisher was the coach of those Michigan teams.
For McDaniels, growing up watching his cousin excel lit a fire.
“It was just an eye opener having someone in the family be so successful,” said McDaniels, who transferred to Federal Way from Beamer before his junior year.
Thus, McDaniels is motivated to continue to work hard to reach whatever heights are ahead of him. Already, he’s drawing comparisons from his coach.
“He’s kind of a Michael Dickerson,” Collins said. “He’s not there with those guys yet, in terms of maturity. Those guys were just locked in. Jalen is learning that. But when he got here he was just a sponge.”