Jalen Marquis McDaniels was born in 1998 in Federal Way, Washington to Will and Angela McDaniels. He has a younger brother, Jaden, who earned McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic All-Star honors in 2019. McDaniels attended Federal Way High School and was part of a team that took the Class 4A state title in his junior year. As a senior, he led the team in points, rebounds, and blocks en route to a 29-0 record and a repeat as Class 4A champs. As a result, McDaniels was named to the USA Today and The News Tribune's All-State team as well being the All-City MVP. You can follow him on Instagram (@jalenmcdaniels). When coach Brian Dutcher took over for his mentor, Steve Fisher, he knew he would start his Aztecs tenure with McDaniels on his team. The 6-foot-10 forward redshirted the 2016-17 season and was ready for Dutcher's debut. For the first 11 games of his freshman season, the forward came off the bench but showed signed of being able to handle more responsibility. He had 13 boards in an early-season win over Sacramento State. He joined the starters for Mountain West play and compiled eight double-doubles in the regular season. The Aztecs won their last six games and then swept through the Mountain West tournament, including a win over Nevada. McDaniels had 17 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the win over the Wolf Pack. He had 18 points and nine rebounds in the NCAA Tournament loss against Houston. As a sophomore, McDaniels started every game and led the team with 15.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. He had six straight double-doubles in conference play and helped beat the Wolf Pack in the tournament again with another double-double. The San Diego State season ended in a loss to Utah State. McDaniels applied for the 2019 NBA Draft after the season and was selected with 52nd overall draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets.