Unlike many in his situation, Jalen Brunson went from a virtual pristine college basketball career to entering the NBA with his hands planted firmly on the re-set button.
That’s because Brunson was the Associated Press College Player of the Year in 2018 after leading Villanova to its second national title in three seasons. While that prestigious honor comes with tons of adulation, somehow Brunson wasn’t selected until the second round of the ’18 NBA Draft.
To put that in perspective, since Jerry Lucas won the first AP College Player of the Year award after the 1960-’61 season, every AP College Player of the Year — save for the players in ‘62 and ’65 who were under the NBA’s old territorial rule – was drafted on the NBA’s first round except Frank Mason III in 2017 and Brunson the following year.
Not only that, Brunson went from being the big man on campus at Villanova to fighting for a spot in the rotation of the Dallas Mavericks, who chose him with the third pick of the second round of the ‘18 draft. So how did Brunson deal with that difficult transition?
“Seriously, I’ve got to thank my dad,” he said. “My dad has helped me through a lot. It’s not easy being one of the go-to guys on a team to not knowing if you’re going to play, especially in your first year.”
Brunson’s dad, Rick Brunson, played in the NBA…