Jalen Johnson is a junior forward for the Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team. However, he has not always been a Ragin’ Cajun.
Johnson played high-school ball for University Lab School where he helped his team win three state championships. His senior year, he averaged 21.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists, as well as being named Louisiana Class 3A Outstanding Player of the Year.
He signed his letter of intent in May of 2016 with St. Louis Missouri. He played his first two years of college ball at St. Louis Missouri.
As a freshman, he played in all 33 games, starting in 18. He averaged 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds his first season.
As a sophomore for St. Louis, Johnson again played in all 33 games and started in 24. He averaged 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds while also having an impressive free-throw percentage and leading the team in three-pointers.
Johnsons transferred to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to play for the 2019-2020 season after sitting out one season to appeal to the transfer rule. Between that time, he spent two weeks on tour with Sports Reach USA in China.
There were a few differences between playing for St. Louis and Louisiana for Johnson.
“It’s definitely closer to home for me. Coach Marlin is family to me, so I guess it’s a more family-oriented program,” Johnson said.
He’s a fan of the play style at Louisiana.
“I think I’ll be able to keep thriving here and my production is pretty good here and I hope it stays that way,” Johnson said.
So far this season with Louisiana, Johnson has played and started in all games. He is averaging 15.6 points and shooting 82% in free-throws. He is also doing well defensively, with 16 blocks and 18 steals.
His favorite moment from the Youngstown State game this season when fellow player Mylik Wilson dunked and made top 10.
His most anticipated game for the season was against ULM.
“It’s an in-state rivalry, just intense, our coach has been on us a lot about this game,” Johnson said.
Johnson produced well in this game. Louisiana won 81-60 and he contributed a career-high 27 points. He also had three blocks, two steals and seven rebounds.
So far, Johnson has had a successful season, but he still recognized some room for improvement.
“I can improve on my leadership skills out there. I mean they’re OK at times, then sometimes they kind of fade off,” Johnson said.
On the other hand, he also described one of his biggest strengths.
“I think my strength is my energy. I bring a lot of energy everywhere, especially on game day. I’m high energy all the time and try to maintain that throughout the game,” Johnson said.
As a team, he believes they’re doing well also.
“I think we’re pretty positive for the most part, we work hard every day. I think that’s all we can ask of each other,” Johnson said.
Outside of basketball, he is a communication major with a broadcast journalism focus. He also has a part-time morning internship on top of all the games and practices. In the future, he aims to earn his Master’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and eventually reach the NBA.