ATLANTA – Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) wing Jaylen Hoard said he “couldn’t imagine” having the headache that is the recruitment process weighing on him at this point in his senior year.
Hoard signed with Wake Forest during the NCAA’s Early Signing Period last week to combat that pressure.
“It feels good to have that out of the way,” said Hoard, a five-star prospect who is ranked No. 19 overall in the ESPN 100. “I just want to worry about playing, nothing else.”
Still, the prospect of becoming the first Frenchmen to play in the McDonald’s All American Game is a feat that Hoard admits gives way to a new pressure of sorts.
“Of course I’d love to be the first,” he said. “That would be big for me to be able to represent my country.”
Hoard only moved to the U.S. last year after dominating the competition at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Spain, averaging 22.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last summer.
“He’s grown so much in such a short time and that’s a testament to his work ethic and natural ability,” Wesleyan Christian Academy coach Keith Gatlin said. “I know he wants to accomplish things like the McDonald’s Game and things like that, but I just tell him to relax and play his game. When he does that everything else is easy.”
Hoard took heed in the Trojans’ 76-68 win over Gainesville Friday at the Holiday Hoopsgiving, pumping in 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
He said, especially in national events like the Holiday Hoopsgiving, it’s hard not to think back to his list of goals, but also realizes that, doing so, ironically, is counterproductive to attainting said goal.
“I just really try and concentrate on playing hard and playing with energy all the time,” Hoard said. “I know if I just focus on those things everything else will come. I want to be in the McDonald’s Game, I want to be first and all that but the way to do that is to not think so much about it. That’s the key.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY