The Under Armour Association is hosting its season debut event this year at Basketball City in lower Manhattan, and Jalek Felton enjoyed some excellent moments in his team's opening round, overtime victory.
Felton authored a far more reserved performance than he typically did during the high school season, deferring to teammates and settling for long jump shots only occasionally. Depending on where he attends high school next season — he's transferring from Mullins — that could be a preview of his role in 2016-17 and beyond.
He also made some key shots late and added one leaping sideline steal and assist at a critical juncture as well.
Clearly, the lanky combo guard is out to redeem Team Felton's (named for his uncle, Raymond) performance a year ago.
"I'm just trying to win it all, it's the last time for me to put this jersey on," Felton said. "I just want to win everything possible. Last year we played in the consolation, so the goals are higher now for every tournament."
Truth is, Felton has not received universal praise over the past 18 months. He has drawn criticism for less fiery performances than people would like to see, while on other occasions he has been spectacular. Becoming more consistent and balanced is key.
"I'm just picking up my defense, I know I've been slacking a little there," he said. "I've really been working on that and trying to get more efficient at everything else."
Felton also ranks as one of the most dedicated fans of any recent Carolina commitment. He has cheered for the team vocally from behind the bench, and he was inspired by the team's recent run to the NCAA final.
"I saw the heart and the passion of wanting to just fight (during the tournament)," Felton said. "They got down 10 with about four minutes left against Villanova, and most teams would have just quit. That's it. But they fought back.
"That's the mentality I'm trying to bring when I get there. Just never give up and keep fighting."