Four years ago, Jalen Stone had zero plans to go to college. As a freshman, Stone did not think his ability to play the game of basketball would take him anywhere.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday, when he sat in front of his friends, family and teammates as he signed to play college basketball at Kentucky Christian University.
Stone made the most of an opportunity received in his senior season.
“This year was crazy for me,” Stone said. “I never thought that I would get a chance have such a big role on a good team. It was always a dream to play college basketball and now it’s come true.”
Stone did not start a single varsity game his whole career until his senior season. Most players would have been nervous for such a role, but not Stone. He responded by finishing with 14.3 points per game, which tied the team lead, making 34.7 percent of his 3-point shots and leading the team in points scored (502) as he helped guide Rowan County to a 21-14 record and a third straight 16th Region title game appearance.
“I put in a lot of hard work in my high school career before I got to show off my talents for my senior year,” Stone said.
Rowan County coach Shawn Thacker cannot think of a player in his career who took the ball and ran or, in Stone’s case, shot with it to earn the opportunity to continue his career.
“It’s pretty amazing what he’s been able to do,” Thacker said. “The talent and ability on the court was there, it was just a matter of putting it all together. …To his credit, he decided to do the things he needed to do to show everyone what we already knew he could do on the court.”
Stone attended an open gym in Grayson one day and said after the visit, it felt right.
KCU coach Ron Reed expects Stone to come in to Grayson and play a big role for the Knights.
“If he thinks he is going to sit on the bench and get a feel of the game, (he’s) going to be hurting,” Reed said. “He’s going to be expected to play and contribute right off the bat.”
And Stone would not have it any other way.
“I’m going to keep working hard and continue to better my game so I can be as good of a player as I can,” Stone said.