Jaylan Slaughter helped the Serra Cavaliers earn a Southern Section Championship during the 2015-16 season (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Serra Cavalier boys’ basketball player Jaylan Slaughter is preparing for his senior season and third varsity season. With a 3.143 GPA, Slaughter has dreams of playing college basketball.

To balance the rigors of athletics and academics, Slaughter uses his time off court wisely by studying.

“At the time I’m not doing basketball or we’re not doing anything that revolves around basketball, I would do my work and sit alone,” Slaughter said. “If I need help, I would go to somebody that’s in my class and help me with something I don’t understand.”

The team is under Bernard McCrumby, who acted as an interim head coach last season. Then, Serra had a competitive edge with a 16-12 overall record and a 6-2 record in the Del Ray league.

“We had our ups-and-downs,” Slaughter said. “Midway through the season, we found our way from [our] problems.”

Slaughter considered the Cavaliers 31-70 loss against the Bishop Montgomery Knights as a memorable moment from last season. The Knights were a top-ranked team in the state and third in the nation.

“We [were] all injured and I was injured at the time but at the same time, we [were] all hyped about the game, thinking we [were] gonna win the game,” Slaughter said. “Then, in the first quarter, we [were] tied up with Bishop and then that was pretty exciting.”

Serra qualified for the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs. They defeated Lynwood 71-60 in the first round. The Cavaliers had their playoffs run cut short by Rancho Verde in a 33-66 loss.

During his sophomore year, Slaughter helped the Cavaliers to a CIF Southern Section Division 4AA Championship after defeating Notre Dame (Sherman Oakes) 53-50. In the tournament, Serra defeated Desert Hot Springs and Nipomo in the first and second rounds, respectively.

“We [were] having a little rough time,” Slaughter said. “As the season got on, we started to figure out what was really missing on the team and then everybody figured out what was their role.”

He mentioned how the players finding their role were a major factor in their success. Serra was 19-15 overall and 4-4 in the Del Ray League during their championship season.

Slaughter has been familiar with the teachers of Serra long before enrolling, including late basketball coach Dwan Hurt.

“Hurt, he was a really good coach and I was always around Serra,” Slaughter said. “I felt like why should I go anywhere else if I knew the people here?”

As Slaughter tried to adjust to varsity play as a sophomore, Hurt fed him advice that would stick with him to this day.

“Hurt was always yelling at me at one practice,” Slaughter said. “At the end of practice, he pulled me to the side and told me … ’don’t worry about how I say it, but what I say.’”

Since his senior year started, Slaughter has enjoyed his English class; he mentioned that his favorite book is the John Steinbeck classic “Of Mice and Men.”

“My favorite class is English because the teacher would relate what we’re doing in class to what’s going on now and at the same time make us laugh,” he said.

The Los Angeles Sentinel is looking for athletes with a strong academic and/or community service record to be the next Student Athlete of the Week. Please send your nomination to [email protected]