Jalen Pendleton was a new face for the Maverick’s basketball team this year, however, it didn’t take long for him to make his presence felt and his name known to fans seeing him for the first time at the Taylor Center.
At the start of the season Coach Margenthaler said that there was no clear cut “leader” of the team, but Pendleton took it upon himself and made a case as to why he should be looked at as just that.
Pendleton was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana by Stacey and Dion Pendleton. He’s the youngest of four children, and said he’s the only one in his family that plays basketball.
As a child he first became hooked on basketball not from the NBA but from an outside source.
“I used to watch And1 a lot, and ever since then I liked basketball,” Pendleton said.
And1 is a shoe company that rose to prominence in the late 90’s with video tapes of street players that played with a style that was flashier and more stunt orientated than the NBA. With that pulling Pendleton in he began playing basketball in the fourth grade, and it hasn’t stopped since.
He had quite the accomplished pre-college basketball career as he was named city player of the year, named in the high honorable mentions in the Associated Press for All-State, and helped his team win the AAU National Championship.
Pendleton started his college basketball days at Southern Illinois University playing for the Salukis. While statistically he didn’t stand out the way he did once he transferred, he did note one of his favorite college ball memories occurred there.
“Before transferring here I played at Southern Illinois, I scored our last 6 points to upset #22 Wichita St. And that team eventually went to the final 4 that year,” Pendleton said.
Upon arriving here he saw an instant rise in his stats. In the three years he played for Southern Illinois he averaged 6.8 points and totaled 121 assists in three years. In his sole year here at MSU his points per game average bolted up to 18, he dished out 167 assists, averaged 5.5 rebounds per game, and had more blocks in this season than the entire three years previous combined.
“Great atmosphere, great coaches and teammates,” Pendleton simply explained on his reasoning behind the transfer.
It’s hard to put it any better than that as all those things combined helped Pendleton become an asset to the team. Along with teammate Jon Fuqua, the duo combined for a great combination on the court to break down defenses. They helped lead the Mavericks to the second round of both the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) tournament as well as the National Collegiate Athlete Association Central Regional tournament.
In addition to helping lead the team to those accomplishments Pendleton also earned All-NSIC honors. He was named NSIC Newcomer of the Year and was named to the All-NSIC First Team. Pendleton was also able to set a first for the Maverick basketball team on December 19th when he became the first Mav to chalk up a triple double in a game against Concordia-St. Paul.
With the season behind him Pendleton will be finishing up his senior year working on his major in Interdisciplinary Studies. When asked if he’s thought about what he wants to do after he graduates he was once again straight and to the point.
“Hopefully play professional.”
Thanks for the great year Jalen, and good luck to you heading forward!
Photo: (Reporter Archives)