Every year, the NIKE EYBL creates stars and allows previously unranked or unappreciated players to step into the spotlight and announce themselves.
Last year was Southern Stampede guard Collin Sexton, who exploded onto the scene and ultimately ended the 2016 season as the leading scorer in EYBL history.
For the second consecutive season, the breakout player of the first session comes from the Stampede.
This year, it's Jalen Lecque's time to shine.
While leading the EYBL in scoring as Sexton did may be a bit of a stretch, Lecque may have had just as impactful of an opening session. He envisioned something big was about to happen.
“My coaches, teammates and the people that guided me through my basketball career that believed in me only knew what I was capable of,” Lecque said. “They said I just needed to show the world, and I took full advantage of it.”
That’s quite the understatement. The 6-foot-4 Lecque not only led his Stampede squad in scoring at just under 21 points per game, he proved himself as one of the best pure scorers in the 2019 class, if not on the entire circuit. Lecque said he knew early on it was going to be a special weekend for him in Hampton.
“My first game of the tournament against Team Takeover (DC). I was nervous and excited at the same time,” said Lecque. “I was extremely locked into the game because this was the chance I was never given. right in front of me at that moment and time.”
“From there I was in a whole different type of zone. Every other game after that I had confidence in my game so much that I had finally found the beast inside of me.”
Lecque during his sophomore year at Archbishop Scanlan
In that game against Takeover, Lecque had perhaps the best game of his young career, dropping 35 on an insane 11-13 from the field. Following a string of three more stellar performances, Lecque knows that he now has to stay consistent in the face of more attention.
“I believe that I now have a target on my back, and that will challenge me to step up even more in order to lead my team to Peach Jam.”
That added attention doesn’t simply stop with opposing teams, however. Lecque’s recruitment has seen an instant impact following his dominant Hampton session, The young guard said that he now has many more options on the table and that makes the rest of the season even more important in showing off his skills to those coaches.
Seeing as his basketball hero is Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, it only makes sense that Lecque constantly deflected praise heaped upon him in favor of talking about his beloved teammates and squad. Lecque believes he can help lead them to Peach Jam and beyond, and three major factors will help them get there.
“If we have unity and toughness, and finish games, then we will be fine.”
There should no longer be any doubt who will have the ball in his hands when it comes time to finish those games for the Stampede.