By Max Feldman
Jaylen Blakes, a consensus top 100 player, is the top overall uncommitted point guard and the 10th ranked uncommitted prospect in the nation. The Blairstown, New Jersey native has seen his recruitment take off, yet he keeps a clear cut focus on his education at the next level. Too many folks still do not know about Blakes, but he has all the ingredients of a massive hidden gem within a phenomenal 2021 recruiting class.
We had the chance to talk progression, goals moving forward and how his recruitment is shaping up with the finish line in sight.
Here’s my take on Jaylen Blakes’ game and how he will fit at the next level.
Blakes is extremely hard-nosed on both ends of the floor and shows clear signals of being able to play both backcourt spots. At 6-2 and 190 pounds, he has a polished scoring package with a go-to pull up game from beyond the arc and in the mid-range. Blakes attacks the basket with the power and aggression, but uses a swarm of acrobatic finishes to score over bigger defenders. He has elite level change of pace, which in combination with a flourishing offensive IQ, makes him one of the more deadly PnR ball handlers in the nation. An extremely functional and mechanically sound jump shot from three has seen massive improvement and should be seen as a go-to spot up scorer. There is massive potential as an off ball scorer if Blakes continues to improve his tendency to attack closeouts and find space in the mid-range. As one of the fastest prospects in the country from end to end, controlling tempo and combining elite touch with the ability to change speeds is the formula for success moving forward. The aspect of his game that excites me the most? A 6-8 wingspan. He is an active defender with quick hands and sturdy build, which he uses consistently to beat drivers to their spot and excels in PnR coverages. He carries physical tools and a phenomenal IQ that bigh major coaches seek in upperclassmen guards. He is a longterm collegiate prospect but has an outlook as an All-Conference performer wherever he lands. Jaylen Blakes is a day one contributor at the next level.
Furthermore, Blakes is extremely intelligent and intuitive off the court. A humble young man with a focus on his future on and off the court. Below is our full conversation on his game, progression and how his recruitment is shaping up.
For those who do not know your game, what kind of player are you?
I am very competitive, two-way player that takes pride in going to battle with my teammates with a common goal of winning. I am known as a three level scorer that plays tough defense, demonstrates leadership and intensity on the court. I am consistently looking at ways to improve my game on and off the court. This includes spending time in the gym, connecting with my coaches and mentors, watching film as well as college and NBA games.
As one of the top remaining 2021 prospects available, where do things stand with your recruitment at the moment?
The pandemic has certainly impacted the recruiting and decision making process by prohibiting campus visits and extending the dead period. I am continuing to evaluate all options to find the most appropriate fit.
What schools are making you a priority?
The schools that continue to be in contact with me include: DePaul, Illinois, Stanford, Texas, and Yale
How has it felt to see your recruitment take off late in the process?
I am extremely blessed to even be recruited and it is a testament to my continuous hard work, patience and faith. I am also fortunate to be at a school like Blair Academy where we play a competitive schedule, learn and have the support of amazing coaches, including Coach Mantegna and Coach DeJesus and of course a community and culture that embraces the total person.
What are you looking for in a college destination?
I am looking for the best combination of academics and athletics; alumni network that is supportive during my college years and after graduation; and school culture and community that embraces student athletes, is committed to diversity & inclusion and has a great school spirit at games. From a basketball perspective, I am looking for a coach who trusts me, embraces me for the individual that I am, and continues to invest in my development and knowledge of the game, growing me as both a person and athlete. Lastly a team culture of brotherhood, selflessness, community service and a focus on just making each other better. And let’s not forget about winning.
When would you like to make a decision by?
Currently targeting early spring.
What areas of your game are you putting an emphasis on at the moment?
I am continuing to work on my decision-making out of the ball screen and reading where the help is coming from. I am continuing to improve my shooting and conditioning to get stronger because this is critical as a player.
What are your goals for the transition to college basketball from Blair Academy?
First it is about finding the best fit and understanding and fitting into the team culture. Then, establishing a stronger relationship with the coaching staff and putting the work in on the court and during practice to adjust to the college game. I also believe my experience through USA Basketball and the core principles of our Blair Academy basketball team of “cause over self”, extreme preparation, and a winning culture will provide a solid foundation and play a role in my successful transition.
Stay tuned for more updates on Jaylen Blakes recruitment.