Jackson State history runs deep with two Tigers

Ken Evans Jr. and Jalani Bell come from families full of JSU alumni
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 9:14 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Ken Evans Jr. and Jalani Bell are both guards for the Jackson State men’s basketball team, and their both Jackson natives. Evans Jr. graduated from Forest Hill High School in 2019, Bell graduated from Ridgeland High School in 2020.

Evans Jr. and Bell are not the only two locals on the team, and they’re not the only ones in their family who have sported the navy and white.

Evans Jr.’s mother and father both graduated from JSU, as did his sister, aunt, and uncle. Bell’s parents are also alumni, as are three of his grandparents, his cousin, and aunt.

“I have a long line of family that’s come to Jackson State,” Bell said.

When it came to choosing where they would go to college, Jackson State was an obvious choice for both players.

“It’s always been in the plan,” Bell said. “I did take time to go to a few other schools, but Jackson State always felt like home.”

“It’s cool having a lot of family members who went to Jackson State, because they come back and support at the games,” Evans Jr. said.

Both players grew up attending football games at Veterans Memorial Stadium and basketball games at the Williams Athletic and Assembly Center. Now, to wear the Jackson State uniform, and play on the floor at the AAC is special for the two Jackson natives.

“It’s just an amazing opportunity that I have, and I savor every moment of it,” Bell said. “Always coming to see the atmosphere, now I’m living the atmosphere. I get to see other fans, other kids come here and watch us play in front of everyone.”

“It really means a lot to me, just knowing I’ve got the city at my back,” Evans Jr. said. “Just represent to the city, being one of the few guys from here.”

Despite never really playing each other in high school, the two players have known each other for a long time, and having each other on the team helps.

“It’s icing on the cake,” Bell said, “because I love Ken, that’s my guy. Me and Ken have a great relationship off the floor, away from basketball, and basketball makes that relationship even better.”

“Just having someone you always knew growing up, and just being here showing the other guys what we’re about in Jackson, or we stand for,” Evans Jr. said.

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