Jalen Gorham is used to taking a different route than others.
He transferred before his senior year from York Country Day to a preparatory school in Massachusetts, The MacDuffie School. Now Gorham is weighing his options for the next step in his athletic and academic career.
At 6-foot-7, Gorham is an intriguing prospect to colleges, but at 183 pounds, basketball coaches want to see him add more weight before he is ready to play at the NCAA Division I level.
So, by the middle of July, Gorham will decide whether he wants to take a postgraduate year to attend a boarding school, where he could focus on improving his body and 3-point shot, or accept an offer from a college as a member of its 2019 recruiting class, if an offer comes.
Still undecided: While Gorham said he is leaning toward the postgraduate year, if the right school offered him before the end of 2019 recruiting season in July, he could see himself playing in college next year.
The fit would have to be perfect for Gorham, and that mainly focuses on the type of coach the program has. After a year playing at an elite level of high school basketball, Gorham found out the type of school he wants to play at.
“A place where the coach is going to push me,” Gorham said. “I feel like if I go to a college where the coach wants the best for me and wants me to work every day, I definitely think that would be the best situation for me.”
Gorham discovered his desire for a demanding coach while playing at MacDuffie this season. Playing with two teammates headed for Wake Forest University and the University of Connecticut, he learned the importance of hard work. He now believes he won’t be able to unlock his potential without a disciplined work ethic.
“I had to give my all every day, every practice,” Gorham said. “(At York Country Day,) I wouldn’t say I was lazy, but I didn’t always have to give my all because naturally I was one of the better kids. Being up there, I wasn’t, so I had to dog it out and make my way.”
Earning his role: Part of making his way meant that he spent the majority of the year bouncing between the starting lineup and a sixth-man role.
That was much different than his role at YCD, where Gorham was a first-team Class 1-A all-state player as a junior, when he helped the Greyhounds to their third straight District 3 Class 1-A crown and averaged 21 points per game. He was a third-team all-state pick as a sophomore.
Gorham said he averaged 10 points per game at MacDuffie, but that the best part of his time at the school was the bond he formed with his teammates.
“We became a family, we talk almost every day,” Gorham said. “Those are my guys.”
Gorham transferred to MacDuffie to play against top competition and was happy he made the choice, despite the difficulties that came with living hours from his hometown.
While he weighed his options, Gorham discussed the process of taking a postgraduate year with teammates at MacDuffie and former coaches who took the same path. Gorham said they all told him he would be able to spend the time needed to take his game and his body to the level needed to receive interest from the colleges he desires.
Gorham said he tries to pattern his game after Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. With a wingspan that he said reaches seven feet, adding size could help Gorham become the type of forward who could defend and score, just like Pippen.
Academics are important: In addition to the program’s success on the court, Gorham is focused on finding a school with high-level academics as well, and intends to major in a field related to business management.
“Places that, after basketball and after school, (will) put me on a path to a successful life,” Gorham said.
However, before he can set his sights on playing at the NCAA Division I level, Gorham is focused on playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball with the York Ballers from July 10 to July 15.
Gorham said he had an interest in several postgraduate schools, but was higher on three than the rest.
While he said he might commit to a postgraduate school later this week, Gorham was unsure of where he will attend next season, but that didn’t bother him. It doesn’t matter if he’s the last player to select his school, as long as it’s the right spot. Then Gorham will be happy.
“It’s not really difficult because I was kind of in this situation last year,” Gorham said. “It’s a process, picking out the right school that will benefit me and get me to the next level.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.