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Bear Insider Video: Cal Senior PG Jalen Cone

August 2, 2023

One of the key early additions of the Madsen Era at Cal was the addition of NAU point guard Jalen Cone‍ this spring. The 5’11/170 senior point guard was a prolific scorer out of Walkertown, NC, averaging 25.7 points and 6.6 assists per game in 2018-19 and 35.5 points per game in 2017-18. He was a top-five scorer in the country in 2017-18 before signing with Virginia Tech, where he played two seasons before transferring to NAU, where he earned Newcomer of the Year his first year in the program.

"It was fun playing in the ACC, being a North Carolina kid," Cone said of his time at VaTech. "So being able to compete against schools like Duke, Carolina, Louisville, all those schools, NC State, it was fun and I played for a great staff there and met a lot of great people that helped me grow as a person and definitely, it was a great place to be."

Cone transferred after a couple seasons to NAU for the opportunity to expand his game in a way that was less likely with the Hokies.

"Yeah, definitely," Cone said. "Virginia Tech, if you go back, watch your film, my role was really just a catch and shoot guy. And just being a smaller-sized guard, a lot of NBA teams and scouts want to see you do more than just catch and shoot. Of course, it's great to have that in your bag. So that that's a part of my game, I definitely felt like I got to experience at Virginia Tech. So I didn't know I had it like that in terms of being able to run off screens the way I was and catching and shooting and being able to knock down the open shots and being able to play off the ball. So I felt like those two years at Virginia Tech helped me grow as a player and discover another part of my game I didn't know I had that I know I will need for the next level."

Cone was asked how his game grew at NAU and if he felt he achieved his objectives there where he averaged 17.6 points, 2.8 rebounds & 2.5 assists while shooting 40% (96 of 240) from 3-point range along with 86% from the charity stripe.

"Just becoming more of a leader, becoming more of a vocal leader around great players," Cone said. "High school, I was a leader but you know, it's different. It's high school. So just at the college level, becoming a vocal leader, then also just leading by the example of my work ethic. And then just stepping into a bigger role where guys looked to me to really do a lot on the offensive side and really just showcasing that part of my game, showing that I could still do what I was doing in high school at the collegiate level."

Generously listed at 5’11, Cone relies on his quick release and prolific leaping ability, using his 48” vertical to effortlessly get his shots off against bigger players.

"I'm known for getting high on my jump shot," Cone said. "I know this year you know coming back to the power five level playing against bigger guys than I was at NAU, I've  just been in the gym with a lot of NBA shooting coaches and guys that work with guys like Steph, Jeremy Lin and Klay Thompson, just working on getting just basically the quick release getting my shot even quicker. I'm already getting high on my jump shot, but now just just using deception to get the shot off and quickness and play on my feet, just knowing guys are going to be bigger and more athletic at this level."

So far, Cone is more than happy with the decision he made to be a Bear.

"You know, I've got one more year so I just wanted to make the most of it and make sure I was in a position to where I'll be able to showcase what I can do individually but mainly just win this year, just being a point guard playing at the highest level of college basketball and just showing, 'Hey, I can lead a team here,’ Cone said. “And I can win and I think Coach Madsen with his experience of playing in the NBA and winning at the NBA level, playing at the highest level of college basketball and coaching at the highest level in the NBA and also succeeded at coaching at the collegiate level so I felt like he was gonna put me in a great position here. He knew his stuff. And you know, this summer, he's been running his stuff like just a lot like NBA teams in terms of workouts, stream sessions, film sessions, so I definitely wanted to live this last year, the college year like a pro so and I've definitely think he's he's doing that for me."

Cone came in with a stellar group of portal and grad transfers and so far, the new talent has connected well on and off the court.

"It's been great," Cone said. "Everybody talks about the players we got out of the portal and some of the pieces we were able to keep and everybody talks about them as players but I think the one thing is that they're great people. Funny guys, a great group of guys to be around, and like you said, it's a new team. We got a lot of guys off the portal but I think we've done a phenomenal job of just gelling off the court, always hanging out, cracking jokes with each other. But there's one thing I have to say: Everybody knows that all the guys who brought in are great players. All the guys we kept, they're great players, but they're even better people and great guys to be around."

Another newcomer is freshman point guard Rodney Brown‍, who’s really opened the eyes of his teammates and coaching staff so far.

"Oh, Rodney's been phenomenal," Cone said. "I wasn't too familiar with Rodney until after I committed and me and him were able to connect and stuff before I was able to step on campus. But ever since I've been here, I've been nothing but amazed by Rodney Brown. He's going to be phenomenal here at Cal. He's going to have a phenomenal career. He's already holding his own here at Cal and in practices. He doesn't look like a freshman. He does not look like a freshman at all, but he's gonna be a special player."

The fifth-year senior not only brings experience to the court but he also arrives with a world of life experience as the father of a beautiful young daughter. Ivy Faithe.

"Man, the best thing about being a dad is that she keeps me on my toes," Cone said with a smile. "And I definitely say it's great being a dad. You know, ever since I became a father, I don't look at life from my own perspective and make decisions based off myself and just think about everything I do. I have to think about her and she just makes me a better person. makes me a better player, too. And she just keeps me warm, she keeps me smiling. And now no matter how bad of a day I'm having, no matter how bad of a game I'm having. I know that she's always gonna be my biggest fan, giving me kisses, hugs and just loving on her daddy.

"Go Bears! Excited for a great season. Let's go!”


Cone Excited to Rebuild Cal Hoops

Discussion from...

Bear Insider Video: Cal Senior PG Jalen Cone

2,442 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by BC Calfan
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Really awesome interview! He might be the most underrated addition we made- Tyson/Aimaq were more heralded but this guy seems like he can be a prolific addition on offense. Really excited.
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Madsen's NBA background and the NBA style offensive sets he runs have been a HUGE part of the appeal to recruits
BC Calfan
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Great stuff. Thoughtful answers by Jalen; seems like a great guy. To see him light up when asked about his daughter was really cool.

But the most exciting thing about the interview is what he had to say about Rodney Brown! To make an impression already with this experienced and talented roster is really encouraging.
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