Jalen Pickett is more than meets the eye.

The Denver Nuggets rookie point guard sat down with Mile High Sports 1-on-1 to discuss his journey to the NBA. Growing up in Rochester, New York, Pickett learned to battle early, and he battled his way through the high school and college ranks to be selected 32nd overall by the Nuggets in the 2023 NBA Draft. Pickett showcased his unique skill set to Nuggets fans in Las Vegas Summer League, and he’s ready to help the Nuggets defend their championship belt in the 2023-24 NBA season.

Pickett spoke glowingly of his experience at Penn State with head coach Micah Shrewsberry (now Notre Dame’s head coach):

“For me, he just broke the game down. He made it really simple for me. Surrounded me with great players, and he just basically taught me how to be a professional. Our relationship really grew after that first year and that summer going into the second year. I actually stayed at Penn State for basically the whole summer…just being able to work and talk to him and watch film and break stuff down…I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me.”

– Jalen Pickett on Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry

Pickett spent two years at Penn State, his fourth and fifth years of college eligibility, and helped lead his school to the NCAA tournament in his final season. With strong, all-around performances throughout the year, Pickett showcased his skill set to be more than that of just a point guard. He played with toughness, IQ, and versatility, traits that will help him excel at the NBA level.

Shrewsberry and his preparation will be a big reason why.

“We actually run kind of a similar defensive scheme as [the Nuggets coaches] are teaching us, so I kind of already know some of the stuff [the Nuggets] are doing on defense. Here, of course there’s a couple of differences, but for the majority of the basic concepts, I already because like I said, he’s an NBA guy running an NBA system.”

– Jalen Pickett on how Shrewsberry and Penn State prepared him for the next level

Making the leap to the NBA level wasn’t difficult for Pickett. He appears ready for the next level in ways that few college point guards are. Often, college programs will task a point guard with running the set plays, orchestrating a college system. Pickett has done that, but he has also developed court vision and a feel for the game naturally through the tutelage of Shrewsberry and others. Pickett sees the floor on both ends of the court, and that affords him advantages while transitioning to the next level that other players may lack.

Pickett also spoke about the player he’s most excited to face at the NBA level:

“I’m a big Steph Curry fan, and I think for me, the reason I’m such a big Steph Curry fan is because I know how much work he puts in to be able to shoot the ball like that. I mean, he makes some incredible shots from distance, so being able to compete against him and just have that kind of ‘looking up to your idol’ moment is going to be great. I’m going to compete, and I can’t wait to see how good he really is.”

– Jalen Pickett on Stephen Curry

To watch the rest of the interview with Nuggets rookie point guard Jalen Pickett, click the link here and subscribe to the Mile High Sports YouTube channel! To listen to the audio version, follow the Pickaxe and Roll podcast wherever you get podcasts.