In a 10-member senior class for the Roxboro Community School men’s basketball team, Jalen Bailey, captain and starting guard, is looking to make a major impact for the Bulldogs in its 2019-2020 season, both on and off the court.
Bailey started his senior campaign on a good note, in the season-opening, 78-38 victory against Eno River on Wednesday, as he recorded 13 points on five-of-eight shooting, including one from three-point range, two rebounds, four assists, and a team-leading four steals.
Bailey is no stranger to the game of basketball. “I have been playing basketball since I was three or four years old.”
He gained his initial interest in the sport from those that were close to him.
“My parents and my friends taught me to love the game,” Bailey said. “My dad has been coaching since before I was born, and I think that was a major factor in me choosing basketball. I just started liking basketball at a young age. So yeah, it just connected from an early age.”
Bailey played basketball throughout his youth, and continued playing through middle school, the first opportunity he had to play on a school team. There was, however, something more that Bailey wanted out of the sport.
“At first, playing basketball in high school was kind of tough on me,” said Bailey. And then as I got older, it started to get tough on me personally and physically. It made me want to play even harder, so I got better at it.”
Not only does Bailey face the pressure of being a captain and senior leader, he faces the pressure of playing for his father, Earl Bailey, who is one of the assistant coaches for the RCS men’s basketball team.
“It’s kind of tough, just because he’s your father, you don’t want to just listen to him and talk to him,” said Jalen Bailey. “He makes it even tougher on me because he knows how good I am, how capable I am of being good with basketball. It just makes it easier for me to play because he believes in me, and he knows that I can play basketball. It puts more confidence in me.”
Jalen Bailey has been fortunate to have the opportunity to play for his dad over the course of his high school career, as Earl Bailey has been helping out RCS men’s basketball head coach Justin Bettendorf as an assistant for the past few years. Jalen Bailey now gets to play for his dad one final season.
In his last season as a Bulldog, there is one thing in particular he wants to improve on the court.
“Just continuing to be more competitive. Try to get better every day. There’s always room for improvement. Always look at myself as the most competitive, even if I may be one of the smallest players on the court. People may think of me like ‘Oh my goodness, he is as big as everyone else because of how strong he is and how hard he works.’ I am always trying to find ways to outplay my opponent,” Bailey said.
Over the years, Jalen Bailey has a lot of memories from his time with the Bulldogs. There was one recent memory, however, that stood out to him.
“It would probably be last year, when we went deep into the state playoffs. We’d never been that far before. The favorite part of that run was the Voyager game. We were down by a whole lot, and no one expected us to win. We came back and just showed everybody that we never quit, and we won. That was the best moment personally.”
Off the court, Jalen Bailey wants to build stronger relationships with his teammates, particularly his senior peers, even better. This will be the last year the seniors get to play basketball together, and they all want to make the most of it.
“We just connect with each other,” Jalen Bailey said. “We always try and tell each other how we can get better. We always try to support each other, and we never try to bring each other down. If we do something wrong, we tell one another. Us seniors have been through thick and thin. It’s one last year we get to do this, and we just want to be together and always find ways to see improvement in other people.”