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New York City native Jalen Carey excited for first game at Madison Square Garden

Syracuse’s freshman guard from Harlem will play at MSG for the first time on Thursday in the 2K Classic.

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Washington at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carey is from Harlem, NY. The Syracuse Orange freshman point guard made sure that reporters knew that after the Jordan Brand Classic game this past April, stating that sometimes people would think he’s from New Jersey because he played his high school basketball at Immaculate Conception.

Now the resident New Yorker will have his first chance to play at Madison Square Garden against UConn this Thursday, a school that also recruited him. After Syracuse’s win over Morehead State on Saturday Carey acknowledged that he has yet to play at MSG but he’s waiting with bated breath for the opportunity. He’ll have people from home coming to the game to support.

“I can’t wait for it,” He said on Saturday, “It’s home for me, just growing up in the city. I just can’t wait for it.”

While he’s never played in the Garden, Carey has played at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Sort of. While he sat out due to a broken finger, Carey was nominated to play in the Jordan Brand Classic last April. He didn’t play in the game but he still showed up and sat on the bench for that game. It was apparent that being selected for that game meant something to him being a New York kid. He expressed his gratitude to his parents and coaches for helping him get to that point in his basketball career.

Back in April, he also said it meant something to him to continue the lineage of NYC guards after the Jordan Brand game. Now he’ll have a chance to play at the mecca in New York’s premier basketball venue and display some of the grit and toughness that’s expected out of New York basketball players.

“People from the city are always labeled as tough so I just want to be able to keep that label and keep going,” Carey said on Saturday.

Before he got to Syracuse, Carey said he was deciding between wearing No. 5 and No. 0 at SU while mentioning he’d probably go with the latter given that that’s the number of people that could guard him.

Carey eventually went with No. 5 at Syracuse given that’s the number he’s always worn, but back at media day he doubled down on his initial statement.

“I swear I was thinking about zero! It was a hard decision but I felt like I had to stick with five. That’s something I’ve always been with so I felt like, ‘Why change it up now?’ One thing, I do like zero because of (Russell) Westbrook. And the statement I made, I’m still going to stick with that even though I don’t have the number zero,” He said.

Carey still doesn’t think anyone can guard him. He’ll have the opportunity to show that on the big stage later this week.