Penn State basketball guard Jalen Pickett was selected by the Indiana Pacers and agreed to be traded to the Denver Nuggets with the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. Pickett becomes the 2nd Penn State player drafted since 1999, and the third-highest Penn State draft pick in school history.
Pickett came to Penn State after spending 3 years at Siena. After his first couple of years at Siena, Pickett had some draft prospects but decided to return to school to help his draft stock. He instead had an injury-riddled season and ended up in the transfer portal where he committed to Penn State over the likes of Gonzaga and Baylor. After taking a little bit to adjust to the better competition of the Big Ten Pickett started to take off and show glimpses of what he would do this year.
This past season from Pickett was undoubtedly one of the best individual seasons in Penn State basketball history. He averaged 17.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game on 55% from the field and 38% from deep. He controlled every aspect of the team, dishing out to shooters or putting opposing guards into the post and getting easy buckets inside. He just did everything for Nittany Lions and powered them to many wins including a 40-point performance against Illinois.
Pickett plays a very old-school style. He’s not as fast as most players but uses his frame and handle well to fend off defenders and get exactly where he wants to go. And where he wants to go is usually the post where he takes his time getting his defenders in position for him to either get them off balance and go up for a layup or hit them with a devastating post fadeaway. Pickett is an extremely smart and high-feel player that should be able to overcome his lack of athleticism by just constantly making the right decision with the ball time and time again. Pickett showed all these skills off with a solid performance during the NBA combine scrimmages where his coach raved about him
Pickett is an extremely fun match with the reigning champions. The whole team is very high feel and smart which Pickett matches perfectly. With Bruce Brown likely out the door, Pickett can help bridge the gap by adding solid shooting and great basketball IQ. Pickett will need to play a more off-ball role in the NBA, but that transition is now a whole lot easier playing next to one of the best playmakers in the NBA with Jokic. Denver’s general manager is former Penn State player Calvin Booth and his love for Penn State shines through with this selection, and Pickett will hopefully prove him right and fit right in with the champs.
Pickett had an up-and-down college career, but in the end, his hard work and talent showed through leading to his selection by the Denver Nuggets with the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft.