GET TO KNOW...JUSTIN JACKSON

This series lets you get to know the men and women from our national team programs. This time we discover  Justin Jackson, from Scarborough, ON who is currently attending  Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

CB: You have represented Canada on both the 2012 & 2013 Cadet Men’s National Teams, capturing a bronze medal at last summer’s FIBA America’s U16 Championship. What does it mean to you to play for your Country?

JJ: It’s definitely more special than just a normal game, to be playing for my country – to have the country on my back. That’s the same for all teammates, we all feel like we are fighting together for something greater.

CB: What is your best memory playing for Canada?

JJ:  When we went to France with U17 team in 2012 we went to visit the First World War battlefield site, Vimy Ridge, together as a team.  It was an unforgettable experience.

CB: Following in the footsteps of Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, and Anthony Bennett, you have decided to attend Findlay Prep. What is your current daily training environment like in Las Vegas?

JJ: There are some real high profile players there, it’s true. Every day, every practice, I’m just focusing on getting better. Not sure what the future holds for me, I concentrate on trying to improve. If God has it in his plan, then we’ll see. I’m doing my part by working hard.

We’ve got the experience of a former NBA coach (Andy Johnson, assistant coach) and of course, it’s good with JYD. (Head coach is “JYD” Jerome Williams, former Toronto Raptors player)  He’s been through what we’ve been through. He understands what I’ve gone through.  He’s done it the hard way, and he made it, so he’s steering us the right way to help us reach our dreams.   Sometimes coaches tell you what they think is best, what they think you should be doing but not all of them know from experience -  I think that with JYD, that really helps.

CB: What are your Team Canada goals? And your personal basketball goals?

JJ:  I want a gold medal for Canada. Everyone is talking about Canada Basketball, we are on the rise and I believe we can compete with them. For my own personal career goals, right now, I don’t want to look too far ahead. Sometimes players do that and they get lost, but I don’t want to get lost.  I just want to get better.  Of course I dream to be in the NBA, but I’m not there yet.  Next level is university, so I’ll focus on that.

CB: What do you miss most about Canada?

JJ:  Definitely not the weather!  I miss my family most.

CB: There are so many talented Canadian players in the NCAA and we really see that now with March Madness beginning. Of the Canadians in the NCAA, have any had a major influence on you and your game?

JJ:  I don’t know all of the Cdns, there are lots, but I talk with those I know from time to time. We all agree not to pay attention to the negativity, sometimes people say “Canadians are soft.”  But we’re all going to prove them wrong.

CB:  Bonus question for you, what are your March Madness predictions?

JJ:  It’s too early for that…but I do like Syracuse, I like their game, their defense and how Tyler runs the show.

(Interview was conducted first day of March Madness) 

CB:  Finally, If you were to offer advice to a young Canadian ball player who dreams of following in your footsteps as an elite player, representing the nation at international competition, what would it be? What do you think are most important to advance as an elite player?

JJ:  Most important in basketball is to work hard every day. Don’t ever take a day off. But even more important is to always put school first.  I’ve made some  mistakes there. My road could have been a lot easier had I always followed that advice so that’s what I’d tell the younger players– stay in school, keep it first and then work on your game every single day.