Leader of the pack


Photo credit: Sean Martens

Jalen Mcferren is a leader.

He has been since his freshman year at Chico State. While most first-year Wildcat basketball players redshirt during their freshman year, Mcferren played a key role as the back-up point guard for the 2014-15 Wildcat team. He played an average of 15.5 minutes while scoring 2.8 points and grabbing 1.8 rebounds per game.

Throughout that first season, he showed flashes of the player he was going to be as soon as he got a starting opportunity. In his sophomore year, he got just that. From Mcferren’s sophomore year to now, he has been one of the unquestioned leaders of the team, and current sophomore center Justin Briggs echoes this statement.

“He’s really taught me how far a good work ethic goes in basketball. He’s taught me that by forming good habits early on, it will translate into everyday norms without any extra effort,” Briggs said.

Mcferren is known for putting in the extra effort necessary to succeed on the court. He is constantly in the gym working out with either assistant coaches or his teammates, trying to be the best player he can be for his team. This is especially true in his final season.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling, it being my last year and all. I’m just trying to enjoy each day and appreciate the time that I have left with my team,” Mcferren said.

Mcferren is averaging a career-high 14.1 points, 3.5 assists and an astonishing 7 rebounds per game. He is ninth in his conference, the California Collegiate Athletic Association, and is 13th in scoring. He has looked even better than in his junior season, and a big part of that is because of changes to his diet.

Over the summer, Mcferren decided that he wanted to eat healthier. This ultimately resorted to him going pescatarian. A pescatarian does not eat any meat except for fish.

“I decided to cut out certain foods that I felt did not have a positive effect on my body and performance. I noticed a difference in my energy and how light my body started to feel after three weeks, so I decided to stick with it. It’s helped a lot with my recovery after workouts.”

He says that it has helped him so much, that he recently decided to go full-on vegetarian.

Chico State has seen a lot of success with Mcferren as the starting point guard for the men’s basketball team. In the 2015-16 season, they won the CCAA regular season title but lost in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament. In the 2016-17 season, the Wildcats ended up in fourth place in their conference but went on an improbable run and made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Chico State has become accustomed to winning games, however, Mcferren wants even more this year.

When asked what his goals were for the season, he said one thing, “Ultimately, I want to win the national championship.”

However, if they plan on achieving this goal the seniors will need to guide them there.

“Leadership is a major key to our success,” Briggs said. “We need Jalen as well as our other seniors to set a good example and guide us in the right direction if we want to have the season that we know we’re capable of having.”

Mcferren is a leader, and that has shown in places other than on the court. As a senior in college, he already has a couple of job offers in the sales and recruiting industry. Although he will continue to evaluate those, he would love to achieve his lifelong dream of playing basketball professionally. However, before he can focus on that, he plans on focusing on his current season.

In an interview last year, Mcferren said that he wanted to be remembered as a great teammate and leader. He also said that he wanted to be the best point guard who ever played for the Wildcats. He has the opportunity to do just that in his final year at Chico State.

Patrick Pace can be reached at [email protected] or @PatPaceSports on Twitter.