LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – Jalen Pickett learned his lesson. He told reporters Wednesday that he needs to grow as an individual and be there for his team.
The comments came in the wake of being benched against Colgate over the weekend. The disciplinary action was a result of being late to a team workout for the second time this season. Pickett said he slept through his alarm, which he called “normal college stuff” but also pledged not to repeat it.
The sophomore guard has received some criticism on social media since being benched. Several tweets referred to him as Mr. NBA, implying that his head got too big after the exposure he received following his freshman season.
Pickett had retweeted several tweets like the one above from his critics. He explained why on Wednesday.
“Cause I don’t understand what that really means,” he said. “I’m here. I’m all about the team. I’m at Siena. My goal is to win a MAAC. I wanted it last year, didn’t get it last year. So I’m here, and I’m all about the team.”
Head Coach Carmen Maciariello said he’s not worried about Pickett going forward, but he plans to help the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year deal with the external pressures he’s been facing this season. The superstardom he achieved in a short time period, both the social media praise and backlash he receives because of it, and the high expectations placed on him are all examples of the pressures he’s navigating.
“For me, it’s about being able to help him more, and grow him as a person,” Maciariello explained, “because that’s my job as a coach and a leader is to be a mentor and a father figure, and a coach last.”
When he’s on the court, Pickett is averaging 16 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. But perhaps his greatest asset was highlighted when he was benched.
“Jalen does so much for this ball club just with his poise, and the guys look to him for his leadership, and his steady decision-making,” Maciariello said as he addressed the 21 turnovers the team had against Colgate. He called Pickett’s calm demeanor on the floor one of the most underrated aspects of his game.
Pickett is expected to be back on the floor against Cal Poly on Saturday, assuming he doesn’t break any team rules between now and then. According to his Manny Camper, that won’t be an issue.
“I know Jalen. He learned from it. It’ll never happen again, and he’s gonna come back stronger.” A strong vote of confidence from his teammate.