Updated: Apr 11, 2020
To launch the Q&A series, Pro Insight presents Jaden McDaniels, a 2019 McDonald’s All-American from Federal Way, Washington:
Pro Insight: Describe your game. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses, in your opinion? What’s the most underrated aspect of your game?
Jaden McDaniels: My game is very versatile, I can play multiple positions and guard multiple positions on the court. My greatest strength would be the ability to play with the ball in my hands, making plays for myself and my teammates. A weakness would be physical strength. Most underrated aspect of my game is my passing. I can really throw dimes.
PI: Being the younger brother of a high-level college player, what are some of the things you’ve learned from Jalen over the years, both good and bad?
JM: I’ve learned a lot from my older brother but the biggest thing that he’s taught me is that you have to work on your game every day and you have to go hard every day. He tells me all the time how hard college is, how hard the practices are, how hard school is, how hard it is to balance school and basketball. He pushes me a lot, I look up to him – so he’s setting the bar high for me!
PI: Over the last year you’ve gone from relatively unheralded to a household name in the world of basketball recruiting – what has it been like to suddenly gain so much more attention, recently?
JM: It’s been cool, but it doesn’t mean anything to me. It hasn’t changed me nor have I let it get to my head. I know that I’ve gotten to this point through hard work and dedication, so I must continue those two things so I can continue to be successful. I know that I’ve got to continue to stay in the gym with my trainer, Cartiea French-Toney, and continue to work like we’ve been doing since I was 14 years old.
PI: As you prepare to make your college decision, please explain the top-3 most important things you’re looking for in a school
JM: There aren’t really 3 things that are most important to me that I’m looking for in a school, I’m just trying to find the place that is the best fit for me!
PI: Who would you say has influenced your life the most up to this point? Why?
JM: My parents Angela Jackson and Will McDaniels have influenced my life the most up until this point. They’ve made so many sacrifices for me so I can play basketball and travel all these years to different places throughout the country so I owe them forever. Their influence has been greatly appreciated. My parents instilled a work ethic in me since I was young, they always tell me I have to keep working and keep grinding.
PI: Name 4 words that best describe you.
JM: Quiet. Shy. Happy. Hooper.
PI: Please explain what Jaden McDaniels brings to a team, regardless of the situation – name some things on the court and some things off the court.
JM: On the court, I’m a competitor, I’m a scorer and I’m a great teammate. Off the court, I’m a community guy – I love giving back to my community, working at local homeless shelters serving food to the homeless. I’m a gym rat, so I always spend my time off the court with teammates in the gym alone or training just staying entrenched in the gym.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has that stuck with you and what did you learn from it?
JM: A defining moment for me was being selected for the McDonald’s All-American game. It stuck with me because it’s proof that you’ll reap the benefits of the fruits of your labor. It’s a game that everyone dreams of playing in and I was blessed to be selected for the game.
PI: What, or who, would you say is your biggest motivation in life?
JM: My biggest motivation in life is my family and to take care of them, to make sure they’re good and don’t have any worries. They really push me to be the best version of myself.
PI: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome? How did you do it? What did that experience teach you?
JM: The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome was transferring from Fed to Garfield, then back to Fed. It was tough because I received a lot of criticism from people and had people saying rude things to me on social media about the decisions I had been making for myself. It was tough to go through that and people being cruel to me as a 16-year-old kid. But that experience forced me to grow up and develop thick skin. It also taught me to do whatever is best for me and what’s going to make me happy.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
JM: I want to be remembered as somebody that was more than just a basketball player. I want to be remembered as somebody that always gave back to his community, somebody that provided hope for the next generation of hoopers. I’m in a unique situation where I can leave the world a better place than it was when I got here and I plan to do that!
I will be heavily involved in basketball camps where I’ll be visibly present not the type where the NBA player shows up for 1 hour the last day. I want to be involved in community give backs and investing into the youth and their education.