Jalen Mccloud is a 24 year old 180cm point guard from Fort Worth, Texas playing his second professional season with the Kirchheim Knights currently averaging 16,2ppg, 2,9rpg and 3,2apg. He played his rookie season with the Bristol Academy Flyers (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 27 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 4.0apg, Steals-4 (2.1spg), FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 83.3%. He began his basketball career with North Crowley High School. In 2013-2014 he played with Blinn JC (JUCO) playing 31 games averaging 9.3ppg, 1.1rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 54.7%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 64.0%. In his second season at Blinn JC (JUCO) he played 30 games averaging 11.7ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.2%. He played his junior year with Texas Southern University (NCAA) playing 35 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 84.7%. He made one more move as a senior playing with East Tennessee State (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 11.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 39.7%, FT: 75.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball before the season started.
Thanks Jalen for talking to germanhoops.com You had a strong rookie season in England with Bristol and now are playing your second season in Germany with the Kirchheim Knights in the very competitive Pro A league. With what kind of expectations did you go into your second professional season?
I expect to have a good, healthy year and finish as high as we can in the tournament while also building positive relationships.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Have you had any friends, ex teammates or opponents from the NCAA that have played in Germany?
I did not know much about Germany, but after doing some research I have gained further knowledge. Germany basketball is highly respected around the world. I have seen many friends and former opponents come in and out of Germany.
The Kirchheim Knights and head coach Mauro Parra are very high on your basketball qualities. What was the deciding point that made you want to put on a Kirchheim jersey this season?
After speaking on the phone with Coach Mauro Parra, our conversation went really well and he was able to give good insight and answers to questions that I did not even realize I had. I also trust my agent in making decisions for me, and we felt this would be a good fit.
The Kirchheim Knights have had some very talented point guards over the last years that also developed further there. How excited are you to be continuing the strong Kirchheim point guard tradition and leaving a long lasting impression?
I am very excited about this opportunity, and I am eager to begin the starting line up and have much success with this new team.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a point guard that can fill up the stat sheet at ease. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
What really stands out in your game is your quickness and your controlled game which a good point guard should always have and be able to control. What other strengths do you possess and will be on display in Germany?
I plan to display my athleticism and passing abilities in Germany. I feel I excel most in these areas.
You score solidly and have solid assist stats. Last season with Bristol you had your best assist average since your school days. Do you see yourself making continued strides as a playmaker this season with the offensive weapons you have and history of former Knights point guards that were able to shine as playmakers?
Yes of course! I plan to keep progressing and elevating my passing game as well, because scoring and passing has to be at a balance for me to be considered a great point guard.
Your also a very strong defender. How much pride do you take on the defensive end and on what parts of your defensive game do you continue to work on so you can be even more of a presence?
I am pretty sure that no one enjoys being scored on, so the key for me is to try to keep my opponent from making plays. Sometimes it is difficult, but there is always a strategy/game plan for me before going into every match. I have been working on improving my off ball defense and trying to anticipate better when defending my opponents.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet with ease, but what do you feel is a hidden strength that isn’t always noticed right away on the court?
I feel like one of my hidden strengths is my ability to jump. People often underestimate this quality with me because of my height.
Last season you played with the Bristol Academy Flyers (United Kingdom-BBL) playing 27 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 4.0apg, Steals-4 (2.1spg), FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 33.0%, FT: 83.3%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in England where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My biggest wake up call was not being able to spend holidays with my family. I never really became home sick, but the holidays made me realize I was not able to simply go to my house for a good meal and usual traditions.
How much of a pleasure was it playing with American Fred Thomas as a rookie. How much easier did he make your job as a prolific scorer and how instrumental was his presence on and off the court making the whole transition from the NCAA to the pro ranks more comfortable?
He was very reliable and consistent. I knew what position he needed to be in order to make those shots which helped take the load off of scoring some games and helped me to gain assists. I was able to showcase my talent as a true guard and my skills in calling plays. Off the court, we connected well especially once we realized that we shared the same birthday.
Last season in the BBL, you had a 2-1 record against your ex teammate at E Tennessee State Devontavious Payne. What kind of experience was it playing against him and was there any good nature trash talking going on?
It was definitely a pretty cool experience. Devontavious is one of the best shooters I have ever played with and against. There was definitely some trash talking going on in those games, both before and after. We both have a competitive edge, which made it somewhat personal but he is like a brother to me.
You began your college career at Blinn (JUCO) where you balled for two years. How important were these two years of grooming for the NCAA? What part of your game made the biggest growth that helped you get into the NCAA groove better?
Playing at Blinn showed me that I had to build my physique and get stronger. I also quickly learned how to improve my playing speed, which helped me to be a better player at the next level. My IQ made the biggest growth from studying more and watching a lot of film.
You had a very solid first season in the NCAA with Texas Southern (NCAA) playing 35 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 84.7%. How important was the latter end of the season for your game having some big games against Alabama State and Southern?
I knew that in order for us to be the top seed going into the conference tournament that we had to win those games, and I was fortunate enough to have a good offensive impact.
Describe about your last week of basketball at Texas Southern winning the SWAC tournament over Alcorn State and then facing North Carolina in the NCAA tournament? Was this your most exciting time in your college career?
The emotions were very up and down because I was not sure what was next, but the time there was definitely a great experience for me. The tournament was exciting because I was able to play on a major platform and participate in something that many college teams dreams of.
When you remember the play of Joel Berry and where he is now and how your game has developed, how do you feel your chances are as a whole being able to continue to go up the basketball ladder and eventually reach the highest level?
I feel like the difference between us two at that time was that he was more prepared and ready for a higher stage in basketball. Now, I feel my IQ has gotten a lot better for me to be ready for any level of play.
You then made another move going to Eastern Tennessee State for your senior year. Why did you do this considering your success at Texas Southern?
I felt that a better opportunity presented itself which would allow me to gain more exposure and develop better as a basketball player. I also enjoyed the traditions and coaching style that Coach Forbes discussed with me prior to taking a visit out there.
You had Mercer’s number at East Tennessee State scoring 25 and 22 points in wins. Were these two games games where you played some of your best basketball?
I definitely feel like I played my best basketball in these two games from a scoring standpoint.
How did head coach Steve Forbes give you that last push as a senior helping you get best groomed and prepared for a professional basketball career?
Coach Forbes main thing was honesty and constructive criticism. He was great about telling us what we need to work on and how to perfect our craft. He also has several professional players that he coached that still believe in his coaching.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Desonta Bradford?
We both had our fair share of wins, but he probably has a few more than me.
Who has been the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA or in Europe?
Please list your five best teammates of all-time?
Emmanuel Mudiay, Jeremy Senglin, Desonta Bradford, Zach Lofton, Myles Turner
Please name your personal own NBA Rushmore. Which four heads would you pick past or present for your list?
Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and Magic Johnson
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Personally, I feel like if we are discussing those two players as the best players of all time, then Kobe Bryant deserves to be in the discussion too. I feel like Kobe Bryant are more comparable than Michael Jordan and Lebron James, because they are the same height/weight which makes their style of play more similar as compared to Lebron.
What was the last movie that you saw?
2 Fast 2 Furious
Thanks Jalan for the chat.