For Jalon Andrews, playing for a team outside of Pike County is something that he has yet to do. The South Pike alum has spent the past two seasons as one of the key contributors for Coach Bryan Bender’s Bears at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
Now he is on the move, not only outside of Pike County, but also out of the State of Mississippi. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward recently signed with the Cal State Fullerton Titans.
“I’m ready to get to work,” Andrews said. “It’s very exciting. It’s been a life-long dream since I picked up a basketball to play at the Division I level. It is surreal.”
He added that he made the decision to sign with the Titans mainly due to their track record with developing their athletes.
“I chose Fullerton because the coaches on the staff, they played at the high level so they know what it takes to get to the next level from Division I which is eventually the pros,” he said.
“And how they develop junior college players like myself from one year to the next. They set goals with them and help them achieve those goals.”
Andrews chose to sign with Fullerton over several other offers including Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Bradford, Siena and Albany, among others.
He understands that in order to reach for the goal that he is setting for himself, it involved having to change his surroundings and go to a school far from home.
“It is something that you have to do in order to get what you want to achieve,” he said. “And I feel like going somewhere that is far from home is going to help me lock in and achieve my goal.”
When it comes to what he wants to study academically, Andrews has his mind set on either sociology or sports management. And with the COVID-19 pandemic in effect, Andrews was unable to tour the campus in the Los Angeles-area. But he was able to do both FaceTime and Zoom calls with the coaches, who offered video tours.
Throughout his career, Andrews has been looked upon as a post player because of his size, but for the past two seasons in Summit, he has incorporated a perimeter jumpshot into his game.
Bender said that in addition to adding the perimeter shot to his arsenal, he is very pleased with the strides Andrews has made throughout the past two years.
“For a kid that came in as a freshman qualifier, a local kid from South Pike, well-coached in high school, Coach (Hilton) Harrell does a great job of developing players, he came here and we just shaped his body, he got so much better,” Bender said.
“And the one thing about him is that he knows so much about basketball. When he is done playing, he is going to coach. Having a guy like that, that everyone likes and respect is a positive thing for your program. And Jalon exemplified that.”