Former LB star Jalen Bourbon named to CVC's defensive team

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comMarch 8, 2013 

As Columbia College men's basketball coach Nathan Rien prepared for each game this season, one thing was constant -- that 6-foot sophomore Jalen Bourbon would match up against the opponent's best player.

"I loved it," said the 2011 Los Banos High graduate. "When our coach would give us gameplans every game, I'd see who I would match up against, it would just feel good."

For Bourbon's tireless efforts to shut down the stars of the Central Valley Conference, he was named to the CVC All-Defensive Team for the second year in a row.

"It means a lot, because I work pretty hard in practice to get ready for games," Bourbon said. "So to be noticed for that means a lot to me."

In Columbia's 26 games this year, Bourbon averaged 7.8 points and about 3 rebounds, while shooting 78 percent from the free throw line. But while the undersized Claimjumpers struggled to a 9-17 record (4-8 in the CVC), the defense began with Bourbon.

"He drew the best player every game," Rien said. "Jalen was situated with guarding the best player on the other team. In our conference we have some good players."

Those players include CVC Player of the Year Alex Perez from the defending state-champion Fresno City College Rams, who were bounced from this year's playoffs March 2.

Hard-working is the first phrase to spill from most peoples' mouths when talking about Bourbon.

"Jalen's a great kid, and he's got a great work ethic. I guess I should say he's a great young man. He's been great for us," Rien said. "I love coaching Jalen. I know he did great job as a three-sport athlete at Los Banos High. I was excited when I was recruiting him.

"He competes, he's soft-spoken, but he has the heart of a lion."

At Los Banos High, Bourbon led the Tigers to a playoff berth his senior season. He also helped the football team and the baseball team to the playoffs.

"Jalen's just a hard worker," former LBHS basketball coach (and current LBHS athletic director) Joe Barcellos said. "He might not have the size or the quickness some of those guys have at the next level, but nobody's going to outwork him. He'll fill in where they need him. He's just a coach's dream in regards to basketball."

Even his dad, Randy Bourbon, who coached him on youth teams, as he did with the older Joshua Bourbon and as he does now with eight-grader Jacey Bourbon at Our Lady of Fatima, had nothing but praise.

"His defense picked up. He would tell me he's guarding so-and-so, he's their leading scorer. He didn't shut them down, but he was going down low and setting them up," Randy Bourbon said. "I saw a lot of his games, and he battled some big guys. He held his own."

Now that his playing days are over for Columbia, Bourbon has plans to attend Sacramento State with the goal of earning a degree in kinesiology and becoming a physical therapist. That's unless the game calls him back.

"It was real tough," Bourbon said about the decision to concentrate on his degree. "It gets tiring after a while because it's a big commitment, but after a week of not playing, I already want to play again."

Bourbon's future will take better shape in the next few weeks and depends on what he decides regarding a JC basketball sophomore showcase in Sacramento. If a school makes on offer, he may not be able to refuse.

Until then, the two-time CVC All-Defensive Team selection is retired from basketball.

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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