By: Ben Waldman
OUA all-star? Check. First place all-time in assists for Ryerson? Check. First professional contract? Czech.
After a stellar five-year stint as the starting point guard for the Rams men’s basketball team, Jahmal Jones has inked a deal with Qanto Turi Svitavy of the Czech Republic National Basketball League (NBL).
Jones, a six-foot guard from Mississauga, Ont. was the focal point of coach Roy Rana’s team during his tenure at Ryerson, and safely secured himself a place in school history when he led the Rams to a bronze medal at the 2015 CIS men’s basketball championships.
“I think to some degree we’re a reflection of Jahmal and his intense competitiveness,” Rana said following the medal win in March. “There’s no way he’s going to step on the floor and not compete. That just never happens.”
Jones is a savvy player with what several former teammates describe as “quiet leadership.” As great as Jones was for Ryerson, and as unique as his skill set is, his agent Matt Slan says that finding work for a young Canadian player — specifically at the point guard position — can be a challenge.
“The overseas market is very saturated, so the point guard spot is a tough one to sell to teams. Most teams aren’t looking for rookies. They want proven guys who can lead their teams,” said Slan, a Dalhousie University grad and president of Slan Sports Management. “We happened to find a nice fit. They liked Jahmal a lot and thought he could be the guy to take them to the next level.”
Playing thousands of miles from home is a new challenge for Jones, but he is thankful for the chance to lace up for a professional team.
“It’s my first time away from the Greater Toronto Area for a full year,” said Jones, who arrived in the Czech Republic in August. “I don’t feel like an outsider here, but I know I am one. My job is to play, and how people view me has never bothered me [before].”
As his career moves along, one thing is certain: Jahmal Jones will remain himself and won’t forget where he came from or the people who have helped him, no matter what happens.
“Ryerson is my second home. I never saw my time [there] ending,” Jones wrote in an email. “I built a lot of long-lasting relationships at Ryerson and [they] gave me the opportunity to make this happen.”
In Jones, Svitavy gets a great point guard and leader.
They can cross that off their Czech list.