Maryland men’s basketball signee Jalen Smith woke up on Feb. 12 excited and ready to make history.
Smith, the first ever McDonald’s All-American from Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, received his jersey for the game that afternoon.
“It was a great day,” Smith said. “To start off with the ceremony was nice. A lot of people came and showed love and support.”
Smith followed up that ceremony with his Senior Night against the John Carroll School in front of a packed gym. The Gaels won, 78-71, behind Smith’s 32 points, 23 rebounds and seven blocks. Seven of those boards came off the offensive glass.
“I was trying to grab every rebound that came off the rim,” Smith said. “Going into college, I’m going in with the mentality that I’m going to get everything off the rim and try to put it back up as quick as I can.”
While he didn’t pay attention to college basketball as a kid, the five-star recruit eventually developed a love for the sport and started following the team his father was a fan of: Maryland. Going into his sophomore year, Smith began to see Maryland as more than just his favorite team, as coach Mark Turgeon offered Smith his first scholarship.
“I’d probably say it started to become a dream after [Maryland] first offered me,” Smith said, “because it was like, ‘Wow, my hometown school offered me.'”
Smith, whom 247Sports ranks the No. 24 player in the country, was teammates with guard Darryl Morsell at Mount Saint Joseph from 2015 to 2017. In Morsell’s final season, the duo took home the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association A conference championship and Baltimore Catholic League tournament title.
Smith hopes their success carries over in College Park.
“We’ll have pretty much the same chemistry that we had in high school,” Smith said. “I’m gonna be looking for him, he’s gonna be looking for me and we’re gonna be doing whatever we can to help our team prosper.”