Starting young: Jalen Ricks’ history with basketball runs deep


Rachel Rudisill / The Sunflower

Jalen Ricks shoots his final 3-pointer of the night during the 3-point contest on Oct. 27 at Shocker Madness. Ricks only appeared in one round after he fell to Colby Rogers.

When redshirt freshman guard Jalen Ricks was a little kid, his dad built him a basketball court with a shooting machine. 

“I’ve been getting a shot since I can remember,” Ricks said. 

Ricks began his high school career at Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood, Arkansas before transferring to Oak Hill Academy, one of the premier high school programs in the country. Oak Hill won nine national titles with their most recent win in 2016. 

Ricks redshirted last season after he tore his meniscus. Ricks said that proved to be an advantage this season.

“I spent a lot of time out away from the game, and just watching guys who were here previously last year, so just learning from them, and then being able to have that time off to really build up my body and get everything right has just been a blessing to me, so I look at it as a positive,” Ricks said.

Head coach Isaac Brown said he’s impressed with what he’s seen from Ricks so far.

“Jalen is much improved – he’s gotten bigger and stronger,” Brown said. “He’s done a great job this summer in improving his defense, can really score the basketball, and we’re expecting big things from him this year.”

An important aspect to any team is the bond. That was a challenge this year with twelve new players, Ricks said. 

“I think we’ve been able to, you know, overcome those difficulties, and been able to bond pretty well,” Ricks said. 

As a team, Ricks said they’ve been working to improve their overall game.

“I just think we need to improve our shooting and then just our sense of urgency on defense,” Ricks said.