Freshman hoops players come in many forms.
There are the guys who step in on Day 1 looking like grown-ass men, able to easily get a role as an extra in the kind of pro basketball movie that stars either a Wayans brother, a golden retriever or both. Matt Mitchell or Tim Shelton circa 2007 are great examples of this.
Then there are the guys who would definitely get their IDs thoroughly scrutinized were they ever to attempt to buy a pack of smokes. Even after a redshirt season, wiry 6-10 forward Jalen McDaniels definitely falls into this category.
Every time I see McDaniels on the court, I’m struck with the strangely maternal urge to go home and bake him a pie. Eat, eat, Jalen – you’re skin and bones!
(Note: I will not actually do this. Not only should Jalen not accept homemade pastries from strange bearded men, it’s also the kind of NCAA infraction that would get a mid-major program the death penalty.)
Yet McDaniels is starting to show signs that his game is more mature than his physique might lead you to believe. In a couple of productive performances at the Wooden Legacy last weekend, McDaniels looked like a useful reserve. In the Aztecs’ 75-52 home win over Bradley Sunday afternoon, he looked like a weapon.