MONO, Ontario (BVM) – Twins Jalik and Jahnai Dunkley-Distant consider themselves lucky to have each other as brothers, friends and teammates.
“This is definitely my best friend for life and I’m definitely looking forward to doing this basketball thing with him,” Jalik said of Jahnai.
The two have been playing together at Orangeville Prep for years and credit each other for how far they have come. Jalik is a four-star forward for the Class of 2024 and a top-100 recruit. Jahnai is not that far behind his brother, who has been playing a little bit longer than him. Jahnai originally played football and, to a lesser extent, soccer. However, he picked up basketball around his freshman year of high school after seeing Jalik’s success and wanting to join his brother.
Jalik Dunkley-Distant (CIA Bounce 🇨🇦) put forth arguably the most eye-opening tape from EYBL’s session two.
6-7 2024 guard with explosiveness, a strong motor, length, advanced vision & live dribble playmaking. Defends multiple spots and a downhill force. Bound for a breakout. pic.twitter.com/HIfEUVY7Uj
— Max Feldman (@MaxFeldman6) April 26, 2022
“Having a twin is the greatest thing that could happen because without my twin, I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I would be doing at this point,” Jahnai said.
Jalik started playing when he was 11, quickly rising through the ranks. Early on he was able to play in the Jr. NBA and it was then that he realized he had a lot of potential in the sport.
“That came with going to Jr. NBA and playing against top guys,” Jalik said. “I was performing out there and I think at that moment I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
From there, the two have found a place at Orangeville Prep, one of the best basketball programs in Canada. The place that helped produce Jamal Murray, Lu Dort, Thon Maker and Ignas Brazdeikis now has the Dunkley-Distant brothers.
— Undraftedfreeagent.com (@Undrafted_FA) November 12, 2021
Together they are helping each other become impressie prospects. At 6-foot-7, Jalik is the more offensive minded of the two brothers, with 6-foot-6 Jahnai being more defensive minded. On the court, they play well off each other thanks to their twin telepathy. They just have that connection.
“I know that if I steal the ball and he’s running out,” Jalik said. “I know I’m giving it to him because I know he’s going to flush it on somebody’s head.”
“When we play it’s truly a connection, it just happens,” Jahnai said.
They feed off each other’s energy and keep the other focused. Jahnai will pick up Jalik during a game, while Jalik pumps up Jahnai. Their play shows that helping each other is effective. With the two brothers on the court, Orangeville Prep has a great chance to build off of its impressive 12-2 season last year. The team made it to the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association Final 8 Championships before losing to Crestwood Prep in the first round.
“We’re trying to win the OSBA,” Jahnai said.
As juniors, they’re taking on more of a leadership role with the team. Jalik and Jahnai know that they have the potential to do something special this year as well as in the future. With that in mind, they hope to inspire those who may watch them. They have a simple message to those who see them play.
“Stay motivated, keep working, keep grinding because eventually the work will pay off,” Jalik said.