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Bay Area high school basketball standout remains focused amid pandemic uncertainty

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Bishop O’Dowd sophomore forward Jalen Lewis exploded on the national scene last season.

And like any elite basketball recruit, he figured this summer, he’d have the opportunity to showcase his talents in front of the top college coaches in the country — but then COVID happened.

So instead of fancy national tournaments across the country, it’s been small gyms and weight rooms in Oakland.

“I was planning on playing for team Why Not in LA,” Lewis said. “We were going to travel around the country. We were going to play in a lot of tournaments against good competition.”

But because of the pandemic, AAU basketball was shut down for the summer, leaving Lewis to continue his progression through the basketball world the old fashion way.

“I’ve been working out with Coach Ant. I’ve been doing beach workouts, and I’ve been in here in the weight room,” he said.

And finding open runs in Oakland during the pandemic hasn’t been easy.

“I haven’t been able to find too many. And not everyone of them is safe,” Lewis said. “If there are 100 kids in there, me and my dad aren’t going to go in there. We just want to be safe.”

Lewis is considered one of the top amatuer basketball players in the country. He currently is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the class of 2023. And the lull in game-action during this pandemic, hasn’t caused him to get complacent.

“It just put more of a target on my back. There are a lot of kids out there who wanted that spot that are mad about it,” he said. “So it just gives me motive to work even harder to keep that spot.”

Lewis has already begun his sophomore year at Bishop O’Dowd, virtually. No one quite knows for sure how the basketball season will play out. 

“Hopefully we get a season because I really want to play. The juniors last year, I know they want to play their senior year. I want to have another year with them.”

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