Jalek Felton didn’t get the state championship he wanted, but his senior season hardly was a failure.
The Gray Collegiate standout won several awards, including the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, and was invited to play in a pair of national all-star games.
Felton also is The State’s Midlands Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“We fell short, but hopefully I taught a lot and they saw a lot, so next year they will know what to expect moving forward,” said Felton, whose Gray Collegiate team lost to Keenan in the Class 2A Upper State final.
“My move from Mullins to Gray was a great move for me, not only basketball, but as far as academics, school-wise. Basketball was a fun ride while it lasted. I enjoyed those guys more than anything else my senior year. I enjoyed being around them at school and the laughs we had. It was a great senior year to go out.”
Felton led the Midlands in scoring (26.3) and assists (5.4) in his lone season for Gray Collegiate after transferring from Mullins. He finished his career with 2,584 points, including a 50-point night in the War Eagles’ regular-season finale against C.A. Johnson.
Felton also had a 41-point game against A.C. Flora – the day after he wasn’t selected for the McDonald’s All-American game. But his favorite memory of the season came in December at the Bojangles’ Bash against highly touted Huntington Prep.
Felton caught fire in the second half and hit the game-winning shot, just days after the death of his grandmother.
“That first half, I didn’t play good. I might have had seven points and ended up with 31 points. That was great,” Felton said. “My teammates kept the game close and I was able to close it out for those guys.”
Felton will stay busy next month, playing in the Jordan Brand Classic and Allen Iverson Roundball Classic games, which feature some of the top seniors across the country. Then, he will get ready to play at North Carolina.
Felton said he needs to get stronger, a little more vocal and improve on defense when he arrives at Chapel Hill in June. The Tar Heels were his dream school and he is following in the footsteps of his uncle Raymond .
Raymond Felton, who has his jersey in the rafters at the Dean Dome, was the starting point guard on UNC’s 2005 national title team. Jalek was in the crowd in St. Louis that night.
“I just want to come in and give what coach (Roy Williams) needs at the time and try to win a national championship,” Felton said. “They will expect a lot of me, but I am going to play my game and everything will fall into place.”