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Hornets Draft Former SDSU Star Jalen McDaniels

The Charlotte Hornets select former SDSU Basketball star Jalen McDaniels in the second round of the NBA Draft.

Will Galvez
June 21, 2019 - 9:47 am
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The Buzz Around Jalen: Charlotte selects McDaniels in the second round of the NBA Draft. 

With all of the swirling rumors surrounding superstar Kemba Walker on whether or not he will depart during free agency, there is one thing for certain in “Buzz City.” Specifically, for a former San Diego State Aztec. Jalen McDaniels, a redshirt sophomore, was drafted in the second round with the 22nd pick (52nd overall) by the Charlotte Hornets late Thursday evening.

McDaniels, 21, redshirted his first season on Montezuma Mesa while still acclimating to campus life. Yet, he was still able to to work out and develop his craft under the tutelage of legendary coach, Steve Fisher before he retired after the 2016-17 season. New SDSU basketball head coach Brian Dutcher leaned on Jalen McDaniels and other Aztec playmakers during his two-season stint, making the NCAA Tournament his freshman year and falling to Utah State in the Mountain West Conference championship game in his sophomore season.

Listed at just a shade under 6’10” and 192 pounds, McDaniels is a tall, long, athletic playmaker who set himself apart from others with his elite perimeter and off-ball defense. He can become a valuable asset for the Hornets if he can continue to improve his shooting efficiency. There was a vast improvement in three-point shooting percentage in two years. From behind the arc his freshman year, Jalen made 21.1 % of attempted three’s, but after a strong offseason and constant work in the Jam Center (SDSU’s auxillary basketball gym), his three-point percentage rose to 32.0%.  

At times, he flashed freakish bounce with his ability to drive to the rim from the wing or on fastbreak plays such as this.

Charlotte’s first two draft selections were Kentucky forward PJ Washington and Nevada small forward Cody Martin, a fellow Mountain West Conference player. Some time in the NBA G League (the NBA’s official minor league basketball organization) would not be a bad thing for McDaniels as he can continue to develop his shot and add weight to his slender frame.

One of the biggest pre-draft concerns was his weight. At 192 pounds, he was the lightest at the combine of anyone who measured over 6’3. Stacking up against larger and more developed post-players in the NBA could present a problem. General manager Mitch Kupchak praised the former Federal High School superstar and Washington native for his large upside and work ethic in his post-press conference following the NBA Draft. But he mentioned multiple times that he needs to gain strength and weight. “[Jalen> is still a young and developing player. He needs to get stronger and put on some weight. [I have> seen him play several times, and watched him work out. At 6’9”  this was a good fit.”

McDaniels joins Xavier Thames (No. 59 in 2014), Jamaal Franklin (No. 41 in 2013) and recent NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard (No. 15 in 2011) as the only Aztecs to be drafted in the last decade.

Time will tell whether Jalen McDaniels can make an impact on this team. Who knows?  Maybe the Hornets owner can show him a thing or two about how to survive in the hive.