There already is one Felton jersey hanging in the rafters at North Carolina’s Smith Center. Gray Collegiate’s Jalek Felton hopes to add another one in the future.
Felton took the first step in that direction as he signed his National Letter of Intent on Friday to play basketball at UNC.
“You look at those rafters and you see all those great names that have come through and won national titles,” he said. “My uncle’s name is one of them, so it is a special place to be and looking forward to playing there.”
Jalek’s uncle, Raymond Felton, was a Tar Heel standout from 2002-05 and still is in the NBA playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. Raymond won a national title at UNC in 2005 and Jalek was in the crowd then at the Edward Jones Dome, watching his uncle score 17 points and grab seven assists in the 75-70 victory over Illinois.
From there, the younger Felton has dreamed of being a Tar Heel and made numerous trips over the years to Chapel Hill for UNC games and with his uncle to play pick-up games in the offseason. This summer, it was Jalek’s turn to play in those games with the likes of Ty Lawson, Marvin Williams, Tyler Hansbrough and Rasheed Wallace.
“When he went for his official visit last week, it was just like being home. UNC is like family to us,” said Felton’s mother, Charmaine.
“My family always made a big deal about (UNC). Some people like UNC but it isn’t a big deal. Tar Heels are everything to us,” Felton said. “You come into our house and it’s Tar Heel everything. It is very big to us and very big for my uncle.”
UNC made Jalek a priority early in his high school career when he was at Mullins and continued as he transferred to Gray Collegiate this year. He committed to UNC in December of 2014 and never entertained any serious conversation from other schools despite the NCAA investigation into the Tar Heel athletics program.
“I was kind of nervous at one point and time but I talked to coach Roy (Williams) and I believe in him and the bond we have together since my freshman year,” Felton said. “Once you trust someone you are all in for them. When he told me everything was going to be OK, I believed him.”
Felton is part of a four-member signing class and should have an immediate impact for the Tar Heels. He is looking forward to being teammates with former Hammond standout Seventh Woods, who is a freshman at UNC.
The 6-foot-4 guard is ranked as the No. 1 combo guard in the country by 247Sports and 24th overall prospect by ESPN. He averaged 24.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists at Mullins last year and has scored more than 2,000 points in his high school career.
Felton was one of six athletes to sign from Gray Collegiate on Friday. The others were Deja Robinson (USC Aiken), Ashley Evans (Mars Hill), Laurie Lloyd (Brevard), Olimre Wilson (USC Sumter) and Meredith Quarters (Converse).