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After football, Talley 'back' to basketball shape

Photo courtesy of Buzzworthy Photos

Jaiell Talley drives to the basket in a game last season.

For the first time since second grade, Jaiell Talley’s school year did not include a fall season of football.

“Football was on my mind, but mainly I was focused on basketball and the team,” Talley said, reflecting on his junior year, in which he led Broken Arrow Tigers basketball team in scoring (9.7 points) and rebounding (6.9).

As a senior, Talley returned to the football field. The lanky outside receiver caught 14 passes for 226 yards and four touchdowns in nine games.

As the Tigers, 2-3, return to the court in 2021, the hope is that Talley has worked his way into “basketball shape.”

“It’s a process,” said Talley, who is averaging 7.6 points and four rebounds a game. “I feel like I’m almost back into full basketball shape.”

With Tulsa Washington first up for the second semester, followed by three games in the Skiatook Tournament, Broken Arrow needs Talley to do more than “feel” ready. The Tigers need him to BE ready.

“I’ve always said of these football guys who come in late, that it takes until about January 15 for them to really be ready to go,” said Beau Wallace, BA Tigers boys head basketball coach. “We’ve seen it in practice over the last two weeks during break that Talley is just a different kid.”

At 6-foot, 5-inches, Talley’s ability to score and rebound effectively is necessary for the guard-heavy Tigers.

“We need more paint presence,” Wallace said. “Rebounding, and taking and making that second or third shot is something we can get from him. Plus, his leadership is valued. He’s just one of those kids that takes care of his business. He’s not going to say lot, but he knows what he has to do when it comes to playing hard and not making mistakes.”

With a 4.0 grade point average, Talley obviously doesn’t make a lot of mistakes in the classroom either. He plans to study electrical engineering in college. He has not decided on a college yet, nor which sport he will play at the next level.

“People ask me that all the time, and I always just tell them ‘the one that gives me the best opportunity,’” he said.

That “opportunity” is two-fold: athletic and academic.

“I pride myself in doing the best I can,” Talley said when talking about the classroom. “I’ve had all A’s since my freshman year. It’s more or less about keeping my GPA up. I don’t like my grades to get below 93. That’s more of a side challenge for me.”

Though the calm, level-headed senior, whose favorite subjects are math and science, is not ready to commit to either sport. However, during a conversation about athletics one can deduce that Talley’s love leans a little more toward basketball.

“I like basketball because I can be a little bit more involved,” he said. “It’s five-on-five, not 22 guys out on the field. The pace is so much faster compared to football. You don’t have timeouts where you’re in the huddle waiting for the plays.

“For football, being a receiver, I like just going one-on-one and proving that I’m a better athlete than the guy in front of me. It’s the same with basketball. In basketball I feel I can do more (to help the team), because I don’t get to play defense in football.”

Talley’s BAHS sports career may not end with basketball in March, however. Though it’s early in the basketball season, Talley is considering adding a third sport – track and field – to round out his senior year. The last time he ran track was in eighth grade.

So, as Talley looks to attend a college that offers him the best opportunities, he is fulfilling opportunities to give BAHS his best.