By Mark Mausner — STAFF WRITER
Freshman guard Jalen Ray may not score 25 points per game this season like he did in his senior year at Hampton High School in Virginia, but he’s already shown flashes of greatness.
Ray took advantage of fellow guard Eli Pemberton’s absence from the starting lineup in the season opener against Army West Point. He scored 10 points and dished out a couple of assists in 36 minutes of action in the victory.
Ray went on to start the following two games and has recorded double-digit minutes in four of seven games this year.
“I was very nervous because it was a new environment. It’s totally different from high school, just a different pace. I got used to it as time went on,” Ray said.
Despite the natural nerves, the 6-foot-2-inch guard has been preparing for this opportunity for most of his life.
“I just fell in love with the sport at a young age and I just wanted to learn how to play,” Ray said. “I knew I could do something with basketball when I played on my eighth grade team as only a sixth grader.”
Aside from his obvious skill on the court, it was his demeanor during downtime that made him a standout. “Coaches saw that I had energy during water breaks. I never wanted to take a break. I always wanted to get better; they knew I had something special,” Ray said.
Despite this enthusiasm for the game, one area where Ray believes he can improve is with his on-court communication. “I’m a very quiet person so I need to be more vocal. I just got to learn to use my voice more and project it better,” Ray said.
Luckily for Ray, he’s surrounded by upperclassmen guards who can shine some light on how he can be successful at the college level. “Desure [Buie] has showed me the little freshman mistakes I’ve made and he’s helped me learn from it,” Ray said.
Fellow lefty Justin Wright-Foreman, the Pride’s leading scorer from last season at 18 points per game, has also worked side-by-side with the freshman.
“We’re both left handed and we both have a gift with the basketball. We work on the same things, get advice on different things and we both add to our games,” Ray said.
Playing basketball at this new level isn’t the only new experience Ray will have in college.
“I actually only came to New York once before for an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournament but other than that I really haven’t explored New York yet,” Ray said.
“I feel like later on I’ll explore New York more but right now I’m just trying to focus on the court.”