Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 2 a.m.
When Jamal Bey joined the Vegas Elite basketball club he was a tall, lanky sixth grader who was forced to play in the post because he was tallest player on the team. But Bey remained steadfast in wanting to play on the wing, practicing his shooting and dribbling for hours every day.
Now, a rising senior at Bishop Gorman, Bey is a 3-star, sharp-shooting guard with scholarship offers from a slew of major Division I programs.
The 6-foot-7 wing led Gorman in 3-pointers last season and has jumping ability to play above the rim. He’s garnered interest from half of the Pac 12 Conference, with offers from Washington, Arizona State, Utah and more.
While Bey says he hasn’t started narrowing down his possible landing spots, he took a trip to Washington in June and says the Huskies are recruiting him the hardest of any school.
“It was really nice up there on campus,” Bey said. “I loved it.”
ESPN ranks Bey the No. 44 small forward in the country and the No. 28 overall player in the West Region.
“He’s a hard worker and his biggest weakness is being too unselfish,” said Rich Thornton, who coaches Bey with Vegas Elite and Gorman. “He’s always making the right basketball play and the extra pass. We need him to look to score a little more, but any college coach who gets Jamal is going to get a great kid.”
Bey will wrap up his club career with Vegas Elite in the Fab 48 tournament July 27-30 at Gorman. It’s during the open recruiting season, meaning coach from all levels of college basketball will be here evaluating prospects.
“I don’t even know how to feel,” Bey said. “It’s a mix of emotions and I don’t really feel it yet but I probably will once it gets closer.”
It’s fitting Bey will lower the curtain on his club career on the same court he’s accomplished so much in high school. He’s been part of Gorman’s past two state championship teams.
“I really want to keep that streak going,” Bey said. “There are individual accomplishments I would like to get like Gatorade Player of the Year and McDonald's All-American, but winning state is the biggest thing.”
After barely playing as sophomore, Bey stepped into the spotlight last season with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists per game for the Gaels.
“He grew up in the club,” Thornton said. “He started out he was not very skilled but he was athletic and he played really hard. Now he’s one of the best kids I’ve worked with.”
With the departures of Chuck O’Bannon Jr. and Christian Popoola, Bey will have to put the Gaels on his back.
“I was nervous about it, but after playing with the guys this summer I’m a lot more comfortable,” Bey said. “I’m doing things that I haven’t done in the past as far as being a leader. Usually I let my play do the talking but I’m learning to be more vocal.”
Thornton says Bey is ready to lead the way.
“He’s ready to take on the challenge,” Thornton said. “We have a young team but a lot of the young guys are really good. They have a lot of respect for Jamal so he will definitely be our leader.”