For the first time since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, Penn State men’s basketball has an All-American, and Jalen Pickett is his name.
The Sporting News named Pickett a second-team All-American, which makes the first time a Penn State player has received that honor since Jesse Arnelle in the 1954-55 season.
That was a long time ago.
Pickett is currently wrapping up one of the best seasons in program history.
He leads Penn State with 18 points, 7.3 rebounds and seven assists per game, the only player in the country with an 18/7/7 line. Career wise, Pickett is the only player in the country with more than 2,000 points, 800 rebounds and 700 assists. He broke 2,000 career points last month in a 93-81 win over Illinois, where Pickett also became the first Penn State player since 1961 to score more than 40 in a game.
More recently, Pickett broke Penn State’s single-season assist record, previously held by Tim Frazier, who set it in the 2011-12 season.
Pickett ranks in the top five nationally in assists per game and assist-to turnover ratio.
Nobody has finished a season with that type of line since 2015-16, when Michigan State’s Denzel Washington accomplished that feat. Prior to that, no player had done it since 1993.
Pickett’s main goal is to lead Penn State to the NCAA Tournament. With thrilling one-possession wins at Northwestern and against Maryland at home within the past week, Penn State is now in the drivers seat for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2011. The team is one of Joe Lunardi’s last four byes, which would mean Penn State would skip the first four in Dayton and go straight to the first round.
For now, Penn State is worried about the Big Ten Tournament. 10th-seeded Penn State (19-12, 10-10 Big Ten) takes on No. 7 Illinois (20-11, 11-9) in Chicago Thursday at 6:30 ET.