Gwynn Park’s Jalen Harris became familiar with the basketball recruiting process last year, watching his teammates set their future plans.
During his junior season, the 6-foot-2 guard was surrounded by seniors in the Yellow Jackets’ eight-man rotation. While Harris turned his focus toward his senior year, the other seven players all found colleges or prep schools to continue their careers.
After bumping his production up to 18 points per game this winter, Harris relished his chance to make a college pick. He signed with Division II Nyack College earlier this month, picking the New York school over a pair of other Division II options, Barton College (N.C.) and Newberry (S.C.).
“They seemed most interested in me, so that was important,” said Harris, who will have about 75 percent of his first-year costs covered by the scholarship. “Their coaches are very passionate, and I had a good rapport with the team. I felt like it was a good place for me to be successful.”
A three-year varsity player, Harris played an important role on Gwynn Park’s Prince George’s County champion team last year on a squad that featured guard Xavier Richards (Baltimore City Community College) and forward Marcel Boyd (Howard), among others.
But the long-range marksman had to adjust his game as a senior once he became the team’s clear top offensive option. With defenses focused on shutting him down, the guard found fewer open outside shots and had to learn to pick his spots to create his own shot.
This winter, Harris earned honorable mention All-Met honors, averaging 18.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for the Yellow Jackets, who went 13-11.
Late in the season, he missed three games after spraining his right ankle in practice but returned for the team’s Maryland 2A South playoff game at then-unbeaten Oakland Mills. The Scorpions cruised to a 73-45 victory, but Harris poured in a game-high 22 points, playing at less than full speed in his final high school game.
Harris said Nyack Coach Jason Crafton began pursuing him last summer. The former Navy assistant called Harris “a true gym rat” in a press release announcing his addition to the team.
Harris will play shooting guard for the Warriors and plans to study business administration and sports management at the school located just outside of New York City. He signed his National Letter-of-Intent during a ceremony at the Brandywine school alongside teammate Ackhel Bazil, a 6-foot-6 forward who received a full scholarship to nearby Washington Adventist.
Since the basketball season ended, Harris has been working out with a personal trainer and hopes to play this summer in the Kenner League to get better prepared for the jump in competition.
“I need to work on my strength right now,” Harris said. “I don’t want to be bullied around at the college level.”
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