LOUDONVILLE — For at least a little bit longer, Jalen Pickett is going forward with his NBA draft process.
That means, for at least a little bit longer, the Siena College men’s basketball program has to continue waiting to see if its top player will be back for a sophomore season.
“I believe I’m closer [to making a decision],” Pickett said to area reporters Wednesday, a day after he finished his two-day stay at the NBA G League Elite Camp in Chicago and returned to Siena’s campus. “Of course, I’m still going to talk to my agent and my mom in the next week or so, and see what happens, and probably make a decision before May 29.”
That date is Pickett’s deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft if he wants to maintain his college eligibility. Besides his time at the NBA G League Elite Camp, where the reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year struggled during scrimmage sessions with his shot, Pickett has already worked out for several NBA teams and said he has “a couple more workouts coming up” starting Monday.
Most important at those workouts for Pickett to show?
“Just that I can shoot the ball,” said Pickett, who shot 1 of 11 from 3-point territory at the NBA G League Elite Camp that ended for him without receiving an invite to the NBA draft combine.
Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello went to Chicago to support Pickett. While the guard who averaged 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game as a freshman said he will take some more time to explore his potential professional opportunities, Maciariello alluded a few times Wednesday to a future that includes a motivated Pickett back at Siena.
“There’s no better way to get a player’s attention than to go through this process, and then to be able to come back and kind of have that hunger,” Maciariello said.
At one point, Maciariello referenced how the workouts and camp Pickett attended could help him learn how his game needs to improve to set himself up for a lucrative professional career.
“For me, as a coach, this is great because he gets to see how much more he has to play within those margins — to get those details and to get that discipline — because . . . you’ve got to be able to do everything you can to be able to put yourself in the best position and give yourself any kind of advantage that you can do,” Maciariello said. “That’s in the weight room. That’s sleeping. That’s diet. That’s stretching. That’s yoga. That’s everything you can to get an advantage, and I think he’s going to be able to take that from this [process].”
At another point, Maciariello said part of the reason Pickett struggled in Chicago was that he ended up on scrimmage teams that were less than ideal for him to succeed with in the way he did as a playmaking guard for the Saints last season.
“To be honest, he didn’t have great shooting on his [G League camp] team,” Maciariello said, “and I told him he’s definitely going to have great shooting surrounding him here, so he doesn’t have to worry about that.”
Pickett described his two days competing in Chicago as a “great experience.” Besides a shooting performance he labeled as “rough,” Pickett — who told a reporter Tuesday from The Associated Press that he “probably” would end up back at Siena for next season — said he thought he performed well.
“I can play with the best of them,” Pickett said. “I did pretty well out there. Didn’t turn the ball over. Really ran the team pretty well. I didn’t shoot as well as I wanted to, but, other than that, I guarded well and I played my game.”
In terms of what he needs to improve, Pickett said the feedback he received centered around shooting better, dribbling in a less-upright stance and adding pounds onto his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame.
“I can work on those,” Pickett said. “I can really improve in those areas.”