Exclusive Diary With UI Commit Jalen James

The Fighting Illini basketball team secured its first commitment for 2013 when point guard Jalen James announced his intentions of attending his state school this summer. James has agreed to provide an exclusive diary for InsideIllini, updating Illini fans periodically on how things are going for him. This is his first installment.

Hi. My name is Jalen James, 2013 commit to Illinois! I'm a 6'-4" point guard out of the West side of Chicago. I play AAU for Mike Mullins's Illinois Wolves 16U team. I go to a small 1A private school called Chicago Hope Academy.

Many people do not know much about the school, and that's why my parents, brother and I picked it! It was a chance for me to get a great education and to start something for myself.

My freshman year, I wasn't really known as a basketball player. So I told myself at night that I was going to be the top point guard in the state, starting today!

That summer, I started working out at Attack Athletics with Tim Grover, my brother Jonathan James, and D.J. Baker. I sometimes went twice a day just to reach my first goal! Summer past by, and I was ready for my 10th grade year of school. I told myself I was going to work hard in the classroom and on the court.

The season started, and the first tournament of the year I took off! I scored 21 the first game, 26 the second game, and 28 points and 15 assists the third game. I made first team all-tournament, and then my name and my "small1A school" started to take a buzz! Schools started to take hand!

The Jacobs Holiday Tourney was when I met my AAU coach Mike Mullins. He watched some of my games. I really didn't play well; in fact, I missed a wide open dunk! Anyway he still wanted me. I guess he saw something in me!

AAU season started, and Coach Mullins pushed me to my top levels. I play point guard for him, and he doesn't play with the point guard position, trust me! haha. One stupid mistake, I'm sitting next to him. I really thank him for sitting me and yelling at me, etc., because it made me a better point guard.

By the time spring ended, I had almost a full list of schools after me. Just because I hit my open shots and played hard D. I played hard all the time and got all my teams open shots.

My best game of the AAU season had to be vs the EG All-Stars. The funny thing about it, I only had two points. But I ended the game with 12 or 13 assists! It really doesn't matter to me if I score. If I can help my team win with rebounds and assists, I'm happy with myself!

June popped up, and schools really wanted J Rockem! I went to some camps and team camps where I played with my school. On June 22nd, I go up to Illinois Team Camp to play in front of Bruce Weber! I didn't play to well at first, but then I slowed down and started to kill. After the day ended, I had an offer.

I sat down with my dad and brother. We called my mother and talked. Afterward, I called Mike Mullins and had a long talk with him, my brother, and dad all on speaker phone. At the end of the day it's my choice, and I made the choice to commit to Illinois!

The whole coaching staff was happy! I was happy. My mom was happy. Dad was really happy. Brother was extra happy, and that's what counts. Some people I know, friends and family, thought it was stupid but hey, they won't be playing point guard for Illinois. I will, so I could care less what they think!

As of now, I'm out with a calf strain. It sucks to be out because I wanna play with my Wolves's teammates and enjoy the championships that we are winning. But hey, everything happens for a reason!

I do need to add a couple of pounds, so as of now I'm at Attack working out, lifting and getting shots up since I can't play. My summer so far is great, my Illinois family and my family are both happy, and at the end of the day, I'm happy. That's what counts!

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