Jalen Hodge could not have gotten off to a better start for the 2017-2018 basketball season.
The 6-1 O’Fallon Township guard came out of the gate with a 35-point performance, including shooting 5 of 9 from 3-point range, in the Panthers’ season opener against Ritenour in the Alton Redbird Tip-Off.
Hodge followed that up with 23 points against Riverview Gardens, 12 points against Alton, and 18 points against Carnahan in helping lead his team to a fifth-place finish at Alton.
“He had a great Alton Tournament, where he made the All-Tournament first team,” said O’Fallon Township High School coach Brian Muniz.
Hodge has been playing basketball since he was 3 years old. That’s when his mom, Lisa, bought him his first hoop. All the practice has paid off.
“Jalen has been terrific for us. He leads us in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game. He has been an excellent leader,” Muniz said.
On Saturday in the Panthers’ 59-52 Southwestern Conference win at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville against Collinsville, Hodge had a hot hand again. He scored 24 points, including shooting 4 of 9 from beyond the arch and 6 of 8 from the free throw line.
Hodge is averaging 24 points per game for the 3-2 Panthers. He has 23 rebounds, eight assists and 13 steals on the young season.
“He has been a leader on and off the court. He, along with the rest of the seniors, have set the tone on how hard we work in practice and games. He has had a great start to the season,” Muniz said.
Hodge hopes continued success this year will translate into his dream — playing at the next level.
“From an early age, I’ve been motivated by college basketball,” Hodge said. “Luckily, I’m blessed enough to attend and have a number of universities who will be paying my full, four-year scholarship.”