OAKLAND, Calif. (BVM) – Standing 6-foot-9, weighing 230 pounds and wearing a size 17 shoe. At 14 years old.
Actually, Jalen Lewis turned 15 in June, but not before his spectacular freshman season at Bishop O’Dowd High School.
“The first game of the year, he’s playing against a senior who’s 18 or 19 years old and going to (Cal State) Northridge, and he (Lewis) dominates the kid and gets MVP of the game,” O’Dowd head coach Lou Richie said.
“What 14-year-old does that?”
The Dragons’ phenom is also the most skilled big man ESPN has seen in the class of 2023, ranking Lewis No. 2 overall. Lewis’ measurables and early production have already resulted in a handful of offers and Richie believes it’s the freshman’s coachability and work ethic that have led to his rising stock.
While there are certainly more recognizable names on ESPN’s 2023 Top 25 such as top-ranked DJ Wagner, San Ysidro’s Mikey Williams and Bronny James, Lewis’ physical makeup and position make him a unique prospect. He is the heaviest freshman on the list and only center in the top 20.
For as large as Lewis is, his advanced skill set allows him to play a versatile game.
“He can handle the ball, he can shoot it, he has post moves, up-and-unders, step-throughs, right hand and left hand,” Richie said. “He’s the most skilled big man I’ve ever seen at 14 years old.”
Even with a memorable opening act, Richie said Lewis had to find himself and adjust to varsity basketball early on in his freshman season. Getting in shape and rebounding are Lewis’ biggest focus areas of improvement moving forward, Richie said, but the freshman’s selfless personality prevented him from an even bigger season than the one he had.
Lewis has picked up offers from Kansas, USC and Cal, but his best prep moments are certainly still ahead of him.
“He could’ve done so much more this year but because he’s a selfless player, he was just happy to be on the court playing with his teammates; a 14-year-old kid having fun,” Richie said.
With the graduation of seven seniors from the Dragons’ squad, Richie said Lewis will have much more freedom to showcase his talent during the 2020-21 season. Another off-season of growth and development for Lewis will give O’Dowd opponents nightmares and get Power 5 coaches very excited.
It’ll also help others realize what Richie already knows about his star big man.
“He knows the offense now, he’s been working his rear end off for the last two months on his own and we expect really big things out of him,” Richie said. “People are starting to understand that he’s going to be really, really good.”