Once Jalen Hill returned from China in November 2017, he sought the comfort of the people closest to him – his parents.
“They did an amazing job of keeping me calm and making sure that I don’t worry, I don’t try to think too much”, said the redshirt freshman power forward. “(They told me to) just trust and believe in God, saying that eventually you’re going to get over it. It’s going to pass.”
While Hill was suspended for all of last season after being arrested for shoplifting during UCLA’s season-opening trip to China, UCLA Athletics allowed him to practice with the team and attend meetings beginning the day after Christmas. The experience helped boost Hill into the Bruins’ starting lineup to begin the season.
In his first collegiate game, Hill was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds in 23 minutes. Against Long Beach State on Friday, Hill was 2-of-3 with four points and six rebounds.
“I was nervous,” Hill said about the season opener against Purdue Fort Wayne. “It was my first game I think in almost a year and just getting used to just being in a game where it actually matters was a big change for me.”
The Corona, California, native entered UCLA as a consensus top-100 recruit in the class of 2017. With redshirt freshman forward Cody Riley out for several weeks with a jaw injury, Hill’s role increases from a borderline starter to a 25-minute-per-game contributor in his first full college season.
But it’s not lost on him or his teammates that at this point last year, there was a possibility that Hill would not have been able to play for UCLA or any collegiate basketball program.
“(My teammates) were happy just to see me,” Hill said. “They’re dorks so when they finally saw me and got to see me every day, it was amazing. It was fun to reconnect and just laugh again.”
Bruins add three signees
Jaime Jaquez, Jake Kyman and Grant Sherfield signed their national letters of intent Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.
Jaquez, a 6-foot-7-inch four-star small forward from Camarillo, is the No. 7 recruit in California according to the 247Sports Composite ranking. Sherfield is a 6-foot-2-inch combo guard from Wichita, Kansas, and Kyman is a 6-foot-6-inch small forward from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Both Kyman and Sherfield are three-star recruits.
“(Jaquez and Kyman) really complement each other in the backcourt,” said coach Steve Alford. “(Kyman) can really shoot the basketball, and he moves extremely well on the perimeter and understands reading screens already. And (Jaquez), just his development, he’s got a chance to be an alpha dog with the way he attacks the basket, the way he can score inside and out. … (Sherfield is) a point guard that can really do a lot of things, good scoring mindset – can score off the bounce, can shoot it, can facilitate really well as well.”