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The rise and possible reclassification of Jalen Lecque

  |   April 20, 2018  |   Michael McLamb

At the start of the 2017 Nike EYBL circuit, Jalen Lecque was a little-known prospect with six Division I offers, none of them were from high-major programs. Fast forward to the present, and Lecque is one of the nation’s most electrifying players with offers everywhere.

Now, Lecque is even considering the option of reclassifying so he can play college basketball in 2018.

So how did he get here?

Lecque’s dizzying rise began last April during his Nike EYBL debut as the Bronx combo guard dropped 35 points to lead the Southern Stampede (Ga.) in a win over Team Takeover (D.C.). The next day, Lecque got his first two high-major offers from Minnesota and Texas Tech. Two days later, Georgia, Kansas State, St. John’s and Wake Forest joined the fray.

The offers never stopped coming as Lecque emerged as one of the breakout stars on the 2017 Nike EYBL circuit.

Meanwhile in Western North Carolina, newly-appointed Christ School head coach Jeff Depelteau was not surprised.

“He had visited [the school] before the circuit started… He definitely showed flashes of what everyone now sees, so I can’t say that anybody here was completely surprised,” said Depelteau in an interview with Mars Reel. “But certainly the way his stock rose to go from being recruited by a lot of mid-major programs to having the highest level programs recruit you in a week or two is pretty amazing.”

Before moving down south, Lecque lived in Teaneck, N.J., but attended Monsignor Scanlan High School in the Bronx. As a junior at Monsignor Scanlan, before transferring to Christ School and reclassifying, Lecque had the attention of scouts, but at just 11 points per game he was still largely under the radar.

However the ‘flashes’ were always there.

After rising to prominence on the circuit, Lecque set out to continue his ascent at Christ School in the mountains of North Carolina.

Head coach Jeff Depelteau may have been impressed by Lecque’s play on the circuit, but there was still no way he could be prepared for what was yet to come.

“It’s really unbelievable. When he gets inside the three-point line he’s almost automatic coming off the dribble. It’s close to kind of Russell Westbrook where he can put it down and speed dribble and pull-up.”

The Westbrook comparisons shouldn't end there.

True to many of the great New York City guards that have come before him, Lecque plays the game with a level of disrespect for his defenders. He relentlessly attacks the basket, and when he gets in the lane… just watch out below.

“It’s just wild his athletic ability and some of the plays he makes. I think the funny part about it is that we got midway through the year and he was doing one or two plays that were just crazy,” said Depelteau. “And I’m [usually] just worried about getting back to the next play. But there were a couple of times where even I was raising my eyebrows and jumping up and down.”

As Lecque gets ready to make his second appearance on the Nike EYBL (this time with the New York Renaissance), he remains one of the circuit's most fascinating players for two reasons. The first, and most obvious reason, being because Lecque proved to be a viral superstar during his junior year at Christ School.

The second, and less obvious reason, being because Lecque finds himself in an intriguing position in terms of his college recruitment. Lecque’s rapid rise to five-star status has afforded him the option to consider reclassifying back to the class of 2018.

Reclassification rumors have been rampant lately as Nate James (Duke), Joel Justus (Kentucky), Jamie Dixon (TCU), Rick Barnes (Tennessee) and Randolph Childress (Wake Forest) have all visited in the last week. Coaches from Georgetown, Florida and Providence also made appearances on Tuesday and Wednesday for workouts at Christ School.

Kentucky basketball insider David Sisk with Cats Illustrated also had the opportunity to speak with Jalen’s father Derrick on Wednesday about the possibility of his son reclassifying and playing college basketball in 2018.

“That is certainly not out of the question,” Mr. Lecque told Sisk. “The plan is for him to play the first two to four EYBL sessions, and we will see how he does. It is solely based on him.”

As previously stated by Jalen, which was again confirmed by his father in the interview with Cats Illustrated, Jalen’s preference is to be a one and done.

“We’ll have to see if we think he could do as well if he comes out in 2018 as he would do if he came out in 2019,” Mr. Lecque told Sisk. “Could he have the same chance to come in and have a great season, then be one and done?”

Lecque’s recruitment is also seemingly wide-open.

In the last six months, a number of schools visited with Lecque on one occasion. However coaches from Duke, Kentucky, NC State, TCU, Tennessee and Wake Forest stand out as being the schools which conducted multiple visits during that time frame.

In the interview with Cats Illustrated, Derrick Lecque also mentioned Oregon as a school that was working hard for his son's recruitment. Jalen mentioned Maryland in an interview with the News & Observer back in December at the John Wall Invitational in Raleigh.

“Maryland, especially, wants me to go up for them [to the class of 2018] because they like me a lot and have shown me a lot of attention,” Lecque told the News & Observer.   

Whatever Lecque decides, you can be sure that he's a special player that doesn’t always get the praise he deserves for other areas of his game.

“Most of his highlights are of him getting to the rim and jumping over people, but he doesn’t get enough credit for the type of passer that he is,” said Depelteau. “He’s extremely confident in his ability to go out there and win. It doesn’t matter who he’s playing against, he’s excited to go out there and compete.”

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