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Jalen Wilson moving from college — and summer league — success to new narrative

Jalen Wilson was at a YMCA Thursday not far from Barclays Center where he talked about developing a new narrative, an NBA one.

When the Nets took Jalen Wilson at No. 51 back in June, the draft room, led by B.J. Johnson, Brooklyn’s Director of Player Evaluation, reportedly was ecstatic, having had him higher on its draft board. That, of course, is a pretty hackneyed story line — every team says that — but Wilson proved in the Summer League that whether the story was true or not, he should’ve gone higher.

Wilson led the Nets to the Summer League Final Four, averaging 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 45.8% from deep, way up from the 33.7% he shot his final year at Kansas. He also showed himself as a team leader. Signed to a two-way deal. Wilson says he understands why some draftniks didn’t like him ... and how they were wrong.

“A lot of people just had me as a volume shooter — saying, ‘he needs to get this many shots to do this.’ And I feel like I completely ended that narrative,” Wilson said in an interview Tuesday with Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. “Just being able to show that I don’t need the ball 20 times to affect the game. Rookies are not going to get shots up, unless it’s the Victor [Wembanyama’s] of the world. You got to be efficient with the ball. And I prepared for it all summer.”

So, the 6’8”, 225-pound Wilson will have to find a new narrative, an NBA narrative. He talked Wednesday at a YMCA basketball clinic about how that’s going and how hard he’s been working on. among other things, his 3-point shooting.

“Including pre draft and the small time we had in Brooklyn before going (to Vegas) it was anywhere from 600 to 700 shots a day,” Wilson told Brian Lewis of the Post Wednesday at the Dodge YMCA just up the street from Barclays Center. “I’d just stick to the same shots; I wouldn’t change. I do all the shots I shoot in the game…so it kind of just became like second nature.”

He also told Bondy that he understands that he is well behind the small forwards in the Nets rotation but says he can and will do whatever is asked. He may have been consensus first team All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year, winner of Julius Erving Award, given to the top small forward in NCAA Division I, and an NCAA champion but now he’s a rookie and only on a two-way contract to boot. He will have to adjust, but is not about to set any limits on himself either.

“College for sure, was different,” said Wilson. “I had the ball in my hands a lot. I had to do a lot of things for my team. Take a lot of tough shots. Now, I think as I showed in Summer League and moving forward in the NBA, I won’t have to take those tough shots at the buzzer. I won’t have to take contested shots over double teams. This isn’t Kansas. This is the Brooklyn Nets. So I feel like the load being less, my numbers will increase. And I feel like I showed that in Summer League. And I’m excited to continue to show it.”

Similarly, he told Ian Begley of SNY that as a rookie he believes he needs make connections across the board, from those who works with to those who root for him.

“Coming to a new place, new city, new organization - obviously very different from Kansas - I think it was important for me to get around, get to know everybody,” Wilson said in an interview with SNY. “This is my job now, so I feel like if I’m going to do it, I gotta do it the right way. And that’s meeting everybody, building a relationship with everybody and just being around.”

In addition to his sterling numbers out in Las Vegas — he was named second team All-Summer League — Wilson has gained a reputation for being mature and open in talking with the media as well as showing a community side.

That side of Wilson played out at Dodge YMCA Wednesday. He was there to run a clinic and present the Y with a check for $10,000 the amount Wilson Sporting Goods (no relation) promised during Summer League. Wilson, the company, agreed to give the Brooklyn Y $100 per point and $50 per assist that Wilson, the player, racked up ... on top of a $5,000 donation. With his success in Vegas, Jalen Wilson was able to max out the donation at $10,000.

Bottom line, Nets brass want to see consistency from Wilson and defense, which Wilson showed he could provide in Las Vegas.

“That [was] one of the biggest things I focused on, just being aware of what I do and when I need to do it, understanding the close out,” Wilson told Lewis. “That was the main things I did in pre-draft, reading close outs, and that’ll be the main thing for me moving forward, understanding if someone closes out too short, shoot the ball, close out too strong, use my body, my size and drive to the paint and create something with that.”

Overall, he knows what he has to do.

“Just how hard I play. I play with a huge chip always,” Wilson said. “I don’t take the game for granted. No matter who I’m playing, I use it as an opportunity to showcase what I can do and the game I love. It’s brought me so many different things in my life, I feel like I owe it to play that hard. That’d be the main thing people will notice is the winning mentality and the plays I make.”

Wilson along with fellow rookies Dariq Whitehead and Noah Clowney will make an appearance at the Nets/Ticketmaster Party on the Plaza at Barclays Sunday. The three are scheduled to do a meet-and-greet with fans at 1:00 p.m. ET. The party runs from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.