Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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N.C. State commit Jalen Lecque leaning toward signing NLI, will still consider NBA option
By ADAM ZAGORIANEW HAVEN, Conn. — N.C. State commit Jalen Lecque is leaning towards signing his National Letter of Intent this coming week but is still considering the NBA as an option beginning during the 2019-20 season.
Because he is a year removed from his high school graduating class, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Lecque could declare for the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s currently projected as the No. 25 pick in 2019 per ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Representatives from 16 NBA teams watched Lecque and his Brewster Academy team go 0-2 here at the National Prep Showcase at Albertus Magnus College, losing Friday night to Mount Zion Prep (MD) and Saturday to Link Year Prep (MO).
A year ago, Anfernee Simons played for IMG Academy (FL) at this event, and he’s now with the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I’m not really focused on the NBA right now,” Lecque said Saturday after the 86-75 loss. “I’m focused on first steps first with high school and then next steps with college. I’m getting everything out of the way, graduating and looking to perform my best every game.”
The NCAA early signing period ends Wednesday.
“I’m waiting because I was at school,” he said. “I like to decide that with my parents and stuff. I still have the papers so I’ll probably be doing that during Thanksgiving break.
“Most likely [I’ll sign]. We’re talking to N.C. State and I’ll definitely let y’all know.”
Lecque is transitioning to becoming a point guard at Brewster after playing mostly off the ball and on the wing earlier in his career.
He continued to show he’s an incredibly athletic player, and dunked several times in front of the NBA scouts. He also made one nice jumper early on. At times, he appeared to be somewhat passive and the overall feeling from the NBA guys was that he needs to show he can play hard on every possession.
Lecque admitted to feeling some pressure playing in front of NBA scouts.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t because I’m still 18,” he said. “Being seen by all these people and all the pressure, it’s for the moment but it happens. You have bad games, you have good games. When I have bad games, I have people that help pick me up.”
“He showed the positives and the negatives,” ESPN draft guru Givony said. “He’s one of the most athletic players you’ll find in the world outside the NBA and I think he showed that his feel for the game has improved.
“He’s a better passer now, but he also showed that there are a lot of things that he needs to work on. He needs to play a lot harder on defense. His jump shot is a long ways away. They went 0-2 here so that’s not a positive but he’s really talented. I think the NBA will keep watching him as the season moves along and try to figure out exactly where he fits into this draft if he does decide to declare.”
Lecque said the NBA style of play appeals to him and that he definitely is not considering the new G League “select” path that will offer certain players $125,000 out of high school beginning in 2019.
“I don’t want to do that,” he said. “Education takes you really far. If the ball stops right now, God forbid. I don’t think the G League is in my favor. Not knocking it down or anything, but it’s not for me.”
He added: “College isn’t for everybody. If you really need the money, [but] I’m not in a situation where I need that money right now. I’m OK.”
He remains in close touch with the N.C. State staff.
“I like N.C. State,” he said. “I like coach [Kevin] Keatts, I just love those guys. So I wouldn’t just abandon them. I’m just going through the process of just becoming a good high school player.”
Ultimately, he may sign this week and then make his NBA decision in the spring.
“N.C. State, they would love the idea [of signing] but they would also love me to go to school,” he said. “It’s so early in the year and me developing as a point guard and me actually figuring out how to pass and get everybody involved, I just need more time doing that.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.