As a top-100 prospect out of Walkertown, North Carolina, Jalen Cone spent his first two seasons of collegiate basketball playing under Head Coach Mike Young at Virginia Tech.
Despite averaging a solid 8.6 PPG off the bench for the Hookies throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons, Cone went portaling in search of minutes at the end of 2020-21.
Highly coveted by several mid-major programs, Cone opted to head west and join head coach Shane Burcar at Northern Arizona where he’d go on to lead the Lumberjacks in scoring for two consecutive seasons averaging 18.2 PPG.
While the Virginia Tech transfer found success during his time in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona struggled in the Big Sky finishing just a combined 21-46 behind Cone’s outlandish scoring.
That was, until the 2023 Big Sky Championship.
Arriving in Boise, Idaho as the Ninth seeded program, NAU ran all the way from the First-Round to the Conference Championship Finals with Cone averaging 19.5 PPG. Here, the Lumberjacks would eventually fall to No. 2 seeded Montana State, but the upset run put the nation’s spotlight on Cone and his Northern Arizona teammates.
As a grad transfer, Cone now joins first-year head coach Mark Madsen at California alongside a loaded transfer class to rebuild this Golden Bears roster and return to Pac-12 contention.
In Cal’s opening night matchup against St. Thomas, Cone contributed 10 points and an assist in a team-leading 37 minutes played to help defeat the Tommies 71-66.
It’s not much, but Cone’s comfortability leading the charges for Madsen was evident and a role he’ll continue to grow into and develop as the season progresses.
In the 5-foot-10 guard, the Golden Bears have added a leadership centric ball-handler who’s ready for the jump to the power-6 level. If Cone can bring forward some of his scoring production from last season while continuing to run the Cal offense, he can help lead this team back to Pac-12 contention.
Cone and Co. will have an opportunity to improve on the opening day win as Cal host Pacific at the Haas Pavilion tonight at 11 pm ET.