John Jordan: A story of success and NBA aspirations

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John Jordan Dunk
John Jordan Dunk

There’s an old saying that those who laugh last, laugh longest, and for John Jordan nothing could be closer to the truth. The former high school and college stand-out continues to claw for every modicum of success on the hardwood. It’s been this way for John the entire of his professional career, as he continues to wait for that elusive opportunity at the NBA level to manifest into a reality.

Humble and eloquent, John Jordan is ever the professional, as he discusses his career with joy, bearing no resentment to opportunities long since passed, instead, focusing on those to come. However, if we’re to look ahead at what’s to come, we must first cast our eyes to the past to truly understand the triumphs that led John to this juncture in his career.

“My most cherished memory of high school was when myself and Danuel House who now plays for the Houston Rockets, led the team to a state semi-finals appearance in my senior year, man that memory will live with me forever”

As with all high school stars who dominate the stats sheet, college offers soon began to flood in. John remembers the recruiting process and recalls making his decision based on playing time.

“My final offers were Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas Tech and Colorado State. But I chose Corpus Christi just because I was granted the opportunity to come in and play right away as a freshman.”

Getting the starting berth right off the bat as a freshman worked wonders for John’s development, as throughout his four-year collegiate career, he set the record books alight, etching his name into Corpus Christi’s history.

“I attended Texas A&M Corpus Christi for four years; I finished my career there 2nd all-time in points, 1st all-time in assists, 1st all-time in steals, and field goals made. I’m pretty much top 5 in every major stat line except for rebounds.”

What came next for John Jordan was the first disappointment in his early basketball career. After dominating at his college level, John entered the NBA draft, ultimately going undrafted it what was one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory. That class consisted of multiple current NBA stars, led by Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray, and even saw Pascal Siakam fall to 27th. Futher back in that draft, players such as Patrick McCaw, Malcolm Brogdon, and Abdel Nader were all picked in the second round. With the talent distribution of that 2016 draft, it’s understandable John dropped out of the draft, even though his college career was thriving. Had it been another year, John would have been at least a second-round pick.

The consensus regarding college players is that each year in college will usually result in their draft status falling. This narrative is due to age, a lowering ceiling, and the risk of injury while at college. So, why did John opt to spend four years at Corpus Christi?

“I was in a situation where if I knew for sure that I would get drafted each year, I would have put my name in the draft. But, I had a little doubt every year, so I just decided to do the four years and get my education.”

That uncertainty may have added to Johns’s low draft stock in 2016, but it ensured that when the ball stops bouncing and father time has caught up with him, John can continue to be successful away from basketball.

Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty draft picks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Disappointing as going undrafted can be, John kept his humble and positive outlook. Soon enough, John Jordan navigated free agency to become a member of the NBA G-League, where he began to thrive, tasting success just as he did in high school and then college.

“Didn’t get drafted, but worked out for 4 or 5 NBA teams. I attended the G-League that following fall ended up getting traded to the Raptors 905 and ended up winning the G-League slam dunk competition in my rookie year. The next year I attended the G-League again with the Raptors 905 and didn’t win the dunk contest that year, but we did end up winning the G-League championship.”

What a fantastic start to life as a professional! Two years in the G-League resulted in a dunk championship and G-League championship ring, and the learning experiences that come with success are irreplaceable. On the flip side, dealing with two-way players coming down from the NBA and walking into the rotation projects as a difficult task, it requires intelligence and self-understanding to be comfortable and thrive in such a situation.

“The only thing you can control is your effort and energy you bring to the team every day. You have to have that mindset, and you can’t take it personally when someone comes down and your play or minutes take a hit.”

With such a grounded mindset, you can understand why John had tasted the success he had up to this juncture in his career. Furthermore, the opportunity to play in the G-League allowed John to create connections with players around the NBA, leading to some great work-outs each summer.

“I train with Isaiah Cannan, DJ Augustin, Tim Frazier. A couple of guys out here in Houston. Eric Moreland is a good friend of mine. But for the most part I do individual training, and Isaiah may train after me. It’s a good resource to have, picking those guys’ brain.”

Following the Raptors 905 championship run, which John Jordan was part of, he decided to alter the direction of his career. A decision which would see John take his talents overseas, a gamble which certainly looks to have been well calculated and is currently paying dividends.

“It was a decision made on what was best at that point. Me and my agent definitely thought it was appropriate to turn our attention to Europe and try to build up our resume a little bit. We wanted a situation where I was going to play a little more and have a bigger role; we felt we could execute that best in Europe.”

Since leaving the United States, John Jordan has played in Belgium, Finland, and, most recently, Germany. In each of those countries, John has been a significant contributor to his respective teams, playing no less than 27 minutes per game while being a focal point of the gameplan. With the difference in culture and style of play in Europe, it was only right than John spoke about his experiences abroad.

“I think the difference is the style of play. European basketball is more team-oriented, the game is a little bit slower, more halfcourt. The G-League is more pace and space, spread the floor, maybe a high PnR and play out of that.The style of play and the pace of play I think is the biggest difference.You may see a lot of players over there (Europe) PPG take a hit, just because it’s more of a balanced attack from the offense in Europe.”

The halfcourt brand of basketball that’s so prominent in Europe has also pushed John’s ability as a scorer, with his three-point shooting developing at an extraordinary rate. The addition of a three-point shot has been a revelation to a predominately dribble-drive threat.

I would say I’d be like an Eric Bledsoe type of guard. Aggressive, attacking the rim, but definitely can make an open shot.”

When asked on his closest comparable NBA player.

“I didn’t have a high volume of three points shots in the G-League. But in Europe, like when I was in Germany, half of my shots or maybe like 40% of my shots were threes. The older I get, the farther I start to get away from the rim, but I can still get to the rim.”

Outside of his improvements on the court, John Jordan also utilized his intellectual prowess to further analyze what he wants from the game of basketball. By looking inwards at what he deems most important, John has realized that succeeding on the court, is far more meaningful to him than making vast sums of money right now.

“I tend to lean towards whats best for my basketball career playing-wise. First off, I love the sport, I would play it for free. I’m down for taking less money somewhere but playing a lot more and working my way up in my career and not just thinking about the money. I feel like if you’re good at anything, the money will soon come. I lean towards making a better overall career decision vs. taking the most money all the time.”

For any basketball player, at any level, what’s best for their career is simple: consistent improvement coupled with a coachable attitude. For a player of John’s age and ability, the sky is the limit should they understand what aspects of their game to continue developing, which is something John has an incredibly firm grasp.

“I wanna be multidimensional; I wanna be able to do everything on the court, not just one or two things. It’s good that I have athleticism and I can lean on it when the time requires but I do have an outside shot, I can run a club.I think at my size, the more you can do, then better, and NBA teams or Euroleague teams place value on you being able to do more than one thing.

For John, his career thus far has been one filled with success and future aspirations that provide him a realistic goal to continue aiming for in the coming years. A love of the game, high-level intellect, and coachable persona create a perfect trifecta for a player looking to arrive in the NBA sooner rather than later.

“I breathe, eat, sleep basketball. It’s been a passion of mine, it’s a thing I love, and so it’s gratifying and something I don’t take for granted.”

All that’s left for John at this point is an opportunity to showcase his skills on a bigger European stage; he’s got it from there, success is in his blood, his story so far tells us that much.

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