LOUDONVILLE — In the days since he became Siena College’s new men’s basketball head coach, Carmen Maciariello continuously voiced his confidence that star freshman Jalen Pickett wasn’t leaving.
That faith was rewarded Friday.
“He’s started something here,” Maciariello said, “and Jalen is a big finish-it guy.”
With an early-afternoon tweet, Pickett confirmed his plans to stay at Siena rather than become one of the nation’s most-coveted transfers. Maciariello and Pickett were in communication throughout the week, and the Saints’ head coach said the freshmen sent him a text message Friday morning to confirm the decision to remain at Siena.
“It was nothing crazy or drawn out,” Maciariello said. “It’s great. It solidified what we believe in here, and that’s that we have kids that believe in each other.”
— PICK (@jalenpickett2) March 29, 2019
Later Friday, Siena received more positive news when freshman Sloan Seymour also tweeted that he intends to stay at Siena, too. Seymour, a 6-foot-9 forward, averaged 9.1 points per game during a season in which he made the MAAC All-Rookie team. Last year, Pickett and Seymour conducted their official visits to Siena at the same time.
Pickett was this year’s MAAC Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-MAAC selection. The 6-foot-4 guard had per-game averages of 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.1 steals during a season in which he generated buzz as a potential NBA prospect.
“And you can accomplish your dreams and goals from here,” said Maciariello, who was named Siena’s 18th head coach on Monday. “The NBA will find you.”
Maciariello replaced Jamion Christian as Siena’s head coach just four days after Christian accepted the head coaching position at George Washington University. Following Christian’s departure, speculation ensued that Pickett could head elsewhere to finish his college basketball career.
“But I never thought he was leaving,” Maciariello said.
In a tweet from Siena’s men’s basketball account, part of a quote credited to Pickett reads: “[Maciariello] was the first person who recruited me. I wanted to be loyal to him, and I love the team we have here.”
? @jalenpickett2 “I just love the community and everybody here. @CoachCarm was the first person who recruited me. I wanted to be loyal to him, and I love the team we have here. It’s going to be really special continuing to play basketball at @SienaCollege the next 3 years.” https://t.co/uxFI4hsZgu
— Siena Basketball (@SienaMBB) March 29, 2019
An assistant coach last season for Siena, Maciariello was one of the driving forces behind Pickett originally heading to Siena. The coach had previously recruited the player when he worked — ironically — as an assistant coach at George Washington, and Pickett played for the Albany City Rocks AAU program that Maciariello also played for as a teenager.
“But,” Maciariello said, “at the end of the day, he’s staying because he likes being a Siena Saint because Siena is a players’ program.”
— Sloan Seymour (@SloanSeymour23) March 29, 2019
Siena’s roster for next season projects as one of the best in the MAAC. The Saints will return three starters from a team that went 17-16, plus add to their lineup redshirt junior Elijah Burns and sophomore Don Carey who each had to sit out this past season because of NCAA transfer rules.
In the transition from Christian to Maciariello, Siena has only lost one player — incoming freshman Shawn Walker — from its projected 2019-20 roster. Siena has three open scholarships for next season that Maciariello could use to add more players to the program.
“Now,” Maciariello said, “I’ve got to worry about coaching.”