One of the top Canadian prospects in the class of 2024 is 6’7” combo guard Jalik Dunkley-Distant. Dunkley-Distant, a 2023 BioSteel All Canadian selection, is a versatile scorer who recently finished his junior season at Orangeville Prep (Canada) playing on the competitive Grind Session circuit. This spring/summer, he is one of the key members on the 17U UPLAY (Canada) team, which consists of Christian Nitu, Ishan Sharma, Hudson Ward, and unsigned senior Ibrahima Sacko, among others. Possessing projectable size, athleticism, and length, the ‘24 recruit has piqued the interest of professional routes in addition to earning offers from high major programs in his recruitment.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Dunkley-Distant discussed his game, studying Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s, his experience with Canada Basketball, a dream NIL deal in Chick-fil-A, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Jalik Dunkley-Distant, from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Jalik Dunkley-Distant: My name is Jalik Dunkley-Distant. I am from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I got a lot of uncles that play basketball. My father played basketball. I didn't really get to watch him play basketball growing up, but I know that's what he loves to do, so here I am now.
PI: Do you have any siblings?
JDD: Oh yeah — I got a little sister, an older twin brother, and then I got three brothers that are younger than me.
PI: Would you say basketball kind of runs in the family, then?
JDD: Oh yeah, for sure. Started with my grandpa. He hoops, so yeah.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
JDD: Nah, once I picked up the basketball, man, I loved it ever since. I know everybody says that, but I really loved it ever since. Like, I would make anything into a basketball just to play basketball.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths?
JDD: My strength is definitely getting downhill, but I think just over the summer and just obviously as I matured as a young man, I've just worked a lot on my jump shot, my handle. But I’d definitely say my strength is just getting downhill. I love to facilitate the ball when I can. I'm definitely a good passer at my size. So yeah, that's really it.
PI: Who inspired you to play basketball Who do you model your game after or study on film?
JDD: I’d definitely say my pops has inspired me to play basketball. As I said before, I've grown seeing him talk about basketball and saying he loves Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki. And yeah, I think Shai, also — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, we're also from the same city. So I think I try to just take little things from his game and try to put it in the mine like his pace and all that good stuff.
PI: What is the most underrated aspect of your game?
JDD: Yeah, I’d definitely say I think people underestimate my jump shot. Like if you give me space I'm 100-percent going to knock it down. So I just think a lot of people underestimate my jump shot.
PI: What are your current measurements?
JDD: Yeah, I measured at 6’6”. I know my wingspan is 6’9” or 6’10”. My weight is 188 pounds.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
JDD: In the gym, I think my main focus has been my jump shot these last past months, but I'm also just working on my handles, my IQ, sitting down with Coach Tony and him just taking me through certain games and different ways I can develop my IQ on the defensive side and offensive side. So I think it's not only on court but off court, as well.
PI: Congratulations on taking home the 2023 BioSteel All Canadian Dunk crown. What did it mean to be named a BioSteel All Canadian?
JDD: I mean, it was definitely a blessing that I wouldn’t have been able to do without God, but as that week went on, I knew work wasn't finished just cause I'm a BioSteel All Canadian.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
JDD: I just want to really get my name out there and let people know who I am no matter where I am, what tournament, and what AAU team I'm playing for. I just want to let people know who I am and where I'm coming from.
PI: You attended the Canada Basketball Junior National Team April Camp this year — talk a bit more about your experience there.
JDD: Right. I mean, obviously I went to training camp in early April, but it's definitely a different type of basketball, man. I think going to the camp and just seeing how dudes handle the rock and all that type of different stuff. I mean FIBA basketball compared to high school basketball is like 100 times different and I think I personally like it only because it just develops you into a better player. Like your IQ becomes higher, you know once you pass the rock, you know when to shoot the rock. You know all that good stuff and I think PT, Coach Patrick just really took me under his wing during the camp and really just showed me how to become a better player. So I think the experience and everything was amazing.
PI: What is your recruitment update?
JDD: I got offers from four schools right now and hope to earn more soon. I got Washington State, Rhode Island, Syracuse, and Pitt. In terms of interest, I got Creighton, Arizona, G League, and a few others.
PI: Have you had a dream school growing up?
JDD: Oh, that's a good question. Dream school growing up as a kid, I think it was definitely Duke cause R.J. Barrett was there playing with Zion and just seeing them dominate was pretty impressive. So I think I'll say Duke. If not Duke, then Kentucky, for sure.
PI: Which schools are you hoping to visit in the near future?
JDD: I think I'm definitely interested in visiting Pitt. I think that's one of them. If Arizona offered me, I would like to visit them, as well.
PI: Besides G League Ignite, there are a lot more post-grad options available these days with OTE and NBL, among others. Have you and your family done much research into those opportunities?
JDD: Not really, I haven't really come across that yet, because I've just been focused on just my game. So I think I'll just take the chance and look at those opportunities if they reach out.
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your choice?
JDD: If it feels like I'm at home, it's perfect. The coach really guides me under his wing. He's not selling you a dream, but other than that, I'm good.
PI: How was the experience playing on The Grind Session?
JDD: I would say I didn't think I could play to my full potential only because I had an injury that I was kind of battling with and that was like my pinky, but I think I just did alright. Nothing too crazy. I definitely could have done better with the experience playing against obviously all the top guys in America and it just let me know where I got to be. So I'm gonna for sure be there in the next two months.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
JDD: Oh yeah, I would definitely say either gaming or playing some other sport like football or soccer.
PI: When you say video games, you mean 2K?
JDD: Yessir. I play 2K, Call of Duty. All of it.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
JDD: Either Lil Baby or Yeat.
PI: What are your favorite TV shows, movies, books?
JDD: No TV shows. I don’t really watch TV like that. Books though, I got this one book I read. I got it from my dad's principal. It's like his coach that he got coached by — his name is Coach Mike Jarvis. I don't know if you know who that is. It's called Everybody Needs a Head Coach, so I think that's the book.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
JDD: Definitely #MoG. MoG stands for Man of God. That's what I go by cause I'm God’s soldier.
PI: How important is your faith to you?
JDD: I mean, my faith is definitely strong because my mother has been in church with us for a good period of time. My grandparents taking me and my twin brother to church, all sorts of stuff like that. So I think that just kind of grew on me and I started to believe in God and be a soldier, so yeah.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
JDD: I think I would definitely choose a pastor. I would definitely be a pastor if I wasn't pursuing my pro career or basketball career.
PI: Any particular pastors you listen or watch?
JDD: Yeah, 100-percent. Pastor Garfield Wheatle. That is my guy right there.
PI: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
JDD: I think I'm both. I'm both, like it just depends on who I'm with and where I am.
PI: What is something that most people have no idea about you?
JDD: That's a great question, bro. I have to say I'm a singer (laughs). That's what they don't know.
PI: Any specific genres you like to sing?
JDD: Yeah, 100-percent. R&B, yes. Gospel, yessir. I’ll hum to myself, but when I can get my practice in, it's R&B 100-percent.
PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?
JDD: I don't think I really got a dream partnership, but I guess Chick-fil-A or something like that. Something cool like that, like a restaurant.
PI: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JDD: Obviously, like you said before, the NBA. I see myself as not just an NBA player but also an entrepreneur, you know? I want to also take part in other businesses while I'm in the league.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
JDD: Happy. Excited. Hard worker. All of that good stuff. Vocal. Hyped.
Height. I guess you could throw ‘patience’ in there because I'm always patient. Definitely hyped all the time, so yeah.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
JDD: I hope to be remembered as obviously a great person who put a basketball jersey on and has done many special things. Someone that just really puts on for their family because at the end of the day, that’s my people and they showed me constant love and support and they've always been in my corner. Yeah, that's really it. I just really want to be known as a great person who made history, who's never had it like that, but did have it like that, if it makes sense.