NBA Dream NBA waters in the spring of 2019. However, he opted to stay in school and later took advantage of relaxed NCAA rules following the pandemic to transfer to Penn State and a higher level of competition for two seasons. He averaged 15.3 points and 5.8 assists across his five collegiate seasons. Before that, of course, there was his Aquinas career. Jalen played football and basketball, twice earning all-state honors in the latter. His junior year was one of the finest in the history of a school with one of the greatest scholastic sports resumes in the state; the Li’l Irish won NYSPHSAA championships in football and basketball four months apart. “That team was really special,” Jalen said. “Our whole core the year before played on the team that went to the final four and lost at states. That whole year, at least basketball-wise, our goal was to get back to the state championship and win. What gave us extra motivation was eight of us who played basketball also played football and won that championship together. “So we were like, ’Let’s do something that’s never been done. Let’s win states in football and basketball the same (school) year.’ We had that chemistry and we had it going headed into basketball. We built confidence and beat a couple of NBA players on our way to the championship and the Federation final.” Now, he’s up against those NBA players as part of his job. John Moriello ’80 has covered high school sports locally for four decades and is president of the New York State Sportswriters Association. 29 by John Moriello ’80 Jalen Pickett is surrounded by his Aquinas family during his 2023 NBA draft party. Photo courtesy of the Denver Nuggets.