Jalen Lecque Brings Elite Athleticism and Explosiveness to Phoenix

by Cody Cunningham

The Phoenix Suns announced on Saturday that they signed their rookies, including undrafted free agent Jalen Lecque. After playing a post-graduate season at Brewster Academy, Lecque joins the Suns as one of the most explosive rookies in his class.

The 2019 National Prep Championship MVP recorded the highest vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine over the last two years at 43 inches. This came as little surprise to Brewster Academy Head Coach Jason Smith who had a front row seat for Lecque’s jaw-dropping athletic ability last season.

“Jalen possesses elite athleticism,” Smith said. “Even by NBA standards, he’s the highest-level athlete. He has a world of potential which I think the Suns as well as other NBA teams saw during the whole draft process.”

Lecque attended Brewster Academy with expectations of transitioning to the collegiate level next, but his highlight reel plays caught the attention of NBA eyes as he received an invite to the NBA Draft Combine. While his explosiveness and tenacity are what stands out, Smith believes Lecque’s skill level goes beyond just what he can do at the rim.

“He’s tough,” Smith said. “He rebounds well for his size and his position. He’s a willing defender. He wants to consistently improve in that area. He’s someone that’s willing to take charges defensively, which frankly a lot of his piers aren’t willing to do. He’s willing to do whatever it takes for a team to win. He’s very competitive.”

Smith has worked with many high-profile athletes throughout his time at Brewster Academy, but one stands out the most when comparing Lecque. 

“We’ve been pretty fortunate to have some talented guys over the years,” Smith said. “I guess the closest comparison in terms of pure athleticism and explosiveness would be Donovan Mitchell, who played here for his junior and senior year.”

Both players had quite a different journey to the league. Lecque is just 19 and Mitchell was 21 entering his rookie season, however just the athletic comparison to the 2018 NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion is of high regard. Smith knows it might not come quick for Lecque, but his dedication towards his improvement will help him along his career.

“It will be a process for him to learn the professional game,” Smith said. “The best attribute that Jalen has is his desire to learn and get better every day. There isn’t any entitlement…He’s understanding that the goal is to get better every single day and learn how to channel that athleticism into being a more complete player.”

Lecque saw his first Summer League action on Sunday night against the New York Knicks. He finished with six points, four rebounds, two assists and a block in 15 minutes as he made a solid impression with Suns Summer League Head Coach Willie Green.

“I just liked his aggressiveness,” Green said. “We can see that that kid is athletic. He has some ability that is sky high, but I thought he just was aggressive all night. He made some mistakes, but we know those things are going to happen. I want him to continue to be aggressive, continue to go out, look for shots, but also get his teammates involved because he has that capability.”

Lecque is taking Summer League as a learning experience as he continues to grow accustomed to the NBA game after coming straight from high school.

“It’s just a great opportunity playing with these older guys,” Lecque said. “They’re just great people. They encourage me. They tell me to play hard. They gave me an assignment to do, just play defense. I focused on that and I didn’t worry about anything else. Let the game come to me.”

Throughout Summer league, Lecque has looked up to the Suns second-year point guard Elie Okobo to help provide him advice and leadership as he prepares for his rookie season.

“Just learn more of his pace,” Lecque said. “That’s really big in the NBA. Just learning when to go fast and when to slow up. Just learning those different things and just a great opportunity to learn from E. E’s a really good player. He played overseas when he was young and now he’s in the NBA. He’s just a really good guy to learn with.”

Lecque has only played one game thus far in a Suns jersey, but the hype around him has continued to grow. Green believes that the physicality that he brings on both sides of the court is the reason why his ceiling is so high.

“That’s very huge,” Green said. “I think when he puts it all together, he’s going to be scary. He’s basically out of high school and he’s still learning the game…If he keeps that motor as he did tonight, he can be scary in the future.”

Lecque and the Summer Suns return to action on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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