Felton: 'I Can Take That Role'

MULLINS, S.C. --- North Carolina commitment Jalek Felton had a banner sophomore season.

Felton averaged 28.7 points and 6.4 assists in leading for Mullins (S.C.) High School to the Region 8-2A title. Mullins lost to Kingstree in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. Since the season ended last month, Felton was named the Morning News Player of the Year and won the Mr. Hoops Zone award by WPDE.

Felton sat down this week for an interview to reflect on his completed sophomore season and coming AAU season, his recent UNC visit, and his high school and college future ...

What was it like being at the Duke-Carolina game earlier this month and was that the first time you attended a Duke-Carolina game?
Actually, yes that I remember. I went to one when my uncle Raymond played but I was like 4 or 5 and didn’t remember. The first experience was great. I wish I could have went ahead and played in it already. It was great.

I know you went up early to the game, what kind of things did you take in before the game?
We had tryouts with Team Felton in Greensboro so we got there about 7:30-ish. We ate dinner at Sutton’s. It was crazy, there was a lot of people there. There was a sign that read “Honk if Duke sucks” and all the cars driving bye were honking their horns. Then, we got to the Smith Center and it was loud, probably the loudest I have ever been in. It was louder than any NBA game I have been to.

“It was louder than any NBA game I have been to.”

What kind of interaction did you have with any of the potential recruits there?
Everyone was just so focused so we didn’t talk that much. Harry (Giles) came over and sat by me at halftime. And that is when Tyus Jones was going off. So we talked about him and Marcus Paige and then comparing Nate Britt and Quinn Cook. Just seeing how those players match up.

What is your interaction like with the coaching staff at UNC?
I talk to coach C.B. McGrath a lot, he is my go-to guy. I talk to Hubert Davis maybe about once a week. But Coach McGrath I talk to every couple days. He can’t (call me) right now (due to NCAA rules) but I can call him.

What are those conversations like?
Normally, if they have a game, we talk about the game. Or they ask how school is going or how my games are going, how I did that night.

What position has the UNC coaches say they project you for — point guard, shooting guard or combo guard?
North Carolina has never had a problem getting guards. They had my uncle, Ty Lawson, Kendall Marshall and Marcus Paige. I think I will take that two-guard role because in late-game situations they are going to need a scorer. And I can take that role and be the two guard.

“In late-game situations they are going to need a scorer. And I can take that role.”

What would be your preference?
Either one I am comfortable with. If you need me to play point guard, I can do that. Because in AAU, I play mainly the point guard. Then in high school, I am scoring a lot more. I am a combination of both so wherever Coach Williams would need me, I am fine.

There was talk in December of you taking visits to other schools – and then your family still said that even after you committed to UNC. Is that still the plan?
No, nothing planned right now.

What did you take away from your sophomore season? What were some of the highs, lows and things you can improve?
Winning Hoops Zone was a big goal and something Coach (Mark) Gerald (longtime Mullins head coach who passed away last year) wanted me to win. He said he wanted me to win three in a row. I scored the ball a lot more this year than last year. I found my teammates a lot more and that was a big improvement.

What do you still need to work on?
Everything. Everything needs to be sharpened up. There is nothing I can’t improve on and am going to work hard on getting better for next season.

“I lost a lot of sleep thinking about what I could have done differently.”

How disappointing was losing in the first round of the playoffs?
I lost a lot of sleep thinking about what I could have done differently to keep my team in the playoffs. Guy (Dyshane Murphy) came in here and dropped 53 points and walked out like it was nothing. That hurt me because I think I could have stepped up to the challenge and did a little more than I did.

What are your plans for AAU basketball this summer?
I am going to play with Team Felton 17-under team.

Who will be some of your teammates for your AAU team, either new or returning?
Of course, we got Sacha Killeya-Jones who is committed to Virginia. We got Yesid Mosquera Perea and Dondre Griffin, Avery Metcalf, Darian Slade so basically same team back.

When will be your first tournament and where all will you be playing this summer?
Our first tournament will be April 10-12 in New Orleans. We will be going to Louisville and then New York in May. We will be going to Atlanta for the finals in July. So it is looking good. We also will be going to Las Vegas, Toronto or Hawaii to finish off the summer, not sure which one yet.

Will you be attending camps this summer?
I know I will be going back to Steph Curry’s camp in California this summer. As far as anything else, I’m not sure. I will be going to more Nike things than anything. I also will be going to NBA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va. since I didn’t go there last year. My mom just put in the information for that.

What about anything with Team USA, since you attended a camp there in the fall?
I talked to coach B.J. Johnson and am going out there this summer sometime.

Is there any chance of reclassifying to the class of 2016?
No, I am fine where I am at.

There are rumors of you might be changing high schools in the fall. Will you be here next year?
Oh, yeah I plan to be here. Coach Gerald always told me that he wanted me to get a championship ring before I left. That is my goal and I’m not leaving until I get one.

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