When Jordan Faison woke up in the mornings in the last two years and looked out the window, he would have seen a nonending sea of lavish tall skyscrapers that would have made Los Angeles look like a tiny village tucked in between the beautiful mountains and special lights at night that will always give it the glamour it deserves. Even if Faison is from Lake Forest, California, he is only 46 miles away from the city of lights and knows too well what it is like living in a bigger place. The last two years, he has called Tokyo home which ranks fifth in the world with 152 skyscrapers, but still way behind number one city Hong Kong that can boast 355 skyscrapers. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and their meager 24 skyscrapers make his current home Tokyo look like an ocean compared to a pond. For Faison having lived in bigger areas and being successful have come hand in hand for his whole life. He played his college ball at Cal Poly Pomona (NCAA2) that has a population of 152,000 people plus won the CCAA tournament twice racking up MVP honors in 2015. As a professional he played his rookie season in Germany in Leipzig that has 560,000 inhabitants and even if the team wasn’t successful, he belonged to the top players in the Pro B earning Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Import Player of the Year. And in the last two years, he never let up with earning team success and continuing to destroy opponents with his lethal play in Japan. He helped the club win the D-3 league and cleaned up with the individual achievements winning Asia-Basket.com All-Japanese B League D3 Player of the Year , Asia-Basket.com All-Japanese B League D3 Forward of the Year and Asia-Basket.com All-Japanese B League D3 Import Player of the Year in 2019. After being away from Germany for two years, it was time to see how he was doing in the far east and how his game had developed further with the special category ‘The Miles where are they now player feature with Jordan Faison.
Jordan Faison was born on October 17th, 1994 in Lake Forest, California and got his early basketball skills at El Toro high school. He then didn’t look far from home to get a good basketball education as well as to get all the advantages from the class room at Cal Poly Pomona (NCAA2) only a 40 minute car ride away. Cal Poly produced two talented players in Larry Gordon and German Tobias Jahn that would play in Germany for many years. He didn’t need long to get accustomed to NCAA 2 ball averaging 8,6ppg and 3,0rpg as a freshman and after that was a vital player in the success of the school winning the 2013 and 2015 CCAA tournaments. In his rookie season he couldn’t pick between the two as one being sweeter than the other. ‘They both are equally sweet. So many great moments with both teams, and how hard it is to win a tourney in the CCAA.You can’t take winning either one for granted’, stressed Jordan Faison. He also was able to average double figures in scoring in his last three years there. In his sophomore season, he averaged 14,2ppg and 5,7rpg and 12,9ppg and 5,2rpg as a junior. He was able to step it up a notch in his senior season playing 30 games averaging 16.9ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.8apg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 22.5%, FT: 65.4%. Of course his hard work paid off for him being able to win two titles and establish consistency, but he also wouldn’t have been so successful if it hadn’t been for the important guidance by head coach Greg Kaminsky. ‘Coach K, and I have to throw in my boy Coach Hill, both prepared me for a professional career the minute I stepped foot at Cal Poly. Coach K really taught me how to be confident in my offensive game and allowed me to expand it each and every year. Coach Hill was consistently on me about playing hard not only on the offensive end but on the defensive end. Those two really brought the best out within me and I couldn’t be more grateful for coaching staff I had for my time in college. They mean so much to me, and not only amazing coaches but amazing people as well’, added Jordan Faison. And of course not to forget Larry Gordon who lent some of his experience and wisdom to the American. ‘LG is really a great role model, he’s the constant professional and is someone I look up to for sure. He played in Germany for a while before moving on, so he just gave me some tips and heads up about basketball, living, and everything you need to know as an American coming over to Germany for the first time’, expressed Jordan Faison.
Despite having a strong senior season, a player is never guaranteed an easy ride to the professional ranks and even more difficult coming from division two. The American had to sweat it out a bit with his nerves in the summer of 2016, but he finally did get signed by German division 3 (Pro B) team Uni-Baskets Leipzig. ‘It was tough at times just being so eager to get out somewhere and play. But I just kept working hard and keeping faith that something would open, and here I am. It’s truly a blessing to have the opportunity to play professional ball overseas, and knowing how tough it is to get over here and start, I take none of this for granted’, said Jordan Faison in 2016. The American personally had an amazing rookie season averaging 20,5ppg,9,7rpg and 2,2apg. But despite dominating on the court, he couldn’t save his team from moving down to the Regionalliga. ‘I could summarize the whole season as a learning experience. Being challenged by a lot of adversity is tough, but fighting through and learning from it only makes you that much better in the long run’, warned Jordan Faison. He compares his game to NBA player Karl Anthony Towns and on the court he was unstoppable scoring in double figures in all 26 games and registered 18 double doubles. He also finished the season making 11 double doubles in his last 12 games and also mastered a triple double against Lich with 17 points, 16 boards and 10 assists. His scoring and rebounding really stand out while his passing still seemed to be a bit off the radar in 2017. ‘I think I’m a good passer. My coaches in college taught me that you don’t have to make the assist pass all time, but that hockey assist pass is just as important’, warned Jordan Faison He also had an unforgettable memory winning 73-67 in Frankfurt where he helped lead the team on an amazing 23-0 run in the fourth quarter and the team got 11 consecutive stops on defense. In the end he had 25 points and 10 rebounds. Coming from a winning environment like Caly Poly and suddenly losing so much in Germany was a tough new experience, but it was a part of the process and he did develop further as a rookie. ‘I think it was extremely important coming from a winning environment in college. It was a different kind of adversity that I had to deal with, and I definitely learned a lot from it. My jumper got better as the season went on, and I think that is something I will continue to improve and will help me in my next step’, warned Jordan Faison in 2017.
In the summer of 2017 we conducted our last interview in his rookie season and one of my usual questions is always what he feels will be his next step. I predicted that he would be on the radar of some German Pro A teams while every Pro B team would have been happy to have him on board. He was also confident that the Pro A could be the next step, but at the same time was unsure where he would be in the next season. ‘ I believe I can play in the Pro A, but I don’t know exactly what my next step will be but I plan on just keep making the best opportunity for myself and going as far as I can’, stressed Jordan Faison then. He had a neutral outlook, but instead of remaining in Germany which would have been the most logical choice, he surprised everybody by going to the far east. I also lost sight of him mainly because he didn’t return back to Germany. Sometime recently he was in my thoughts and I checked his eurobasket.com profile and Japan had found his fancy. If someone had told him in the summer of 2017 that he would be playing in Japan for the next two years, he would have answered like this. ‘I definitely would’ve been surprised! I never know where I’m going after each season because I’m really open to playing anywhere in the world. So I probably would’ve said something along the lines of ‘Really? Well let’s do it’, stressed Jordan Faison. Even if he has been in Japan for two years, he never forgot Germany and can truly call Japan like a second home now. ‘They definitely have flown by, which really puts in to perspective the value you have to put on each year you get to play this game for a living. I definitely miss all the people and friends I’ve made during my time there. I’ve stayed in contact with most of them, but it’s still nothing like being there. I’m definitely comfortable in Japan, and have met a bunch of great people I consider close friends. I’m also very comfortable getting around and keeping myself busy’, added Jordan Faison. The American signed with Tokyo Excellence (Japan-B League D3) and recently finished his second season helping the team move up to the D-2. Despite coming from a different country and style with the Pro B, he had absolutely no problems coming to terms with everything on the court. ‘It’s really tough comparing the two because the style of play is so much different. In Japan it’s a lot faster pace, higher scoring, etc. In Germany it was a lot more physical game, with structured systems offensively, and very defensive low scoring games. Both have their positives and negatives for sure’, warned Jordan Faison.
In his first season with the Tokyo Excellence (Japan-B League D3) he excelled playing 62 games averaging 17.2ppg, 8.7rpg, 2.5apg, Blocks-5 (1.3bpg), FGP: 61.0%, 3PT: 23.6%, FT: 64.4%. He scored in double figures in 54 games, had 24 double doubles and scored 20 points or more in 25 contests. Not only did he to get used to playing many more games, but also the fact that he would play teams back to back within a 24 hour period. ‘It’s definitely easier in the aspect of being more familiar with what each player does. On the other hand it’s a lot harder on the body, and sometimes the other teams game plan can completely change based off the previous game’, commented Jordan Faison. He was fortunate to have another potent American on board with Justin Herold who showed him the ropes that first season on and off the court. ‘Justin was great! He always played hard and played to win, so being able to have a teammate like that always makes it easy to adjust’, stressed Jordan Faison. In his second season in Japan, he was able to heighten his game a bit more as he played 59 games averaging (22.4ppg being the fourth best scorer in the league, 10.0rpg, and showed just how well his passing had improved being the fourth best assist man at 4.9apg, led the league in blocks at 1.8bpg), and was second in FGP at 63.8% 3PT: 26.2%, FT: 70.4%. He scored in double figures in every game, had 35 double doubles and scored 20 points or more in 42 games and had two triple doubles. But most importantly he won another title something he hadn’t done since his days at Cal Poly. ‘It was awesome. Coming into the season we knew we had a good chance of winning with the team we had. I think our chemistry and ability to pull out close games really separated us from everyone’, warned Jordan Faison. He was fortunate again to have special American teammates like center Ryan Stephan who like him also put up massive stats. ‘Ryan’s IQ for the game, and all around play is something special. Like being able to actually communicate on the court and being able to communicate without having to say anything really made the game so easy! It felt like we had been playing together forever’, stressed Jordan Faison.
His game has continued to grow in the last two years and with the massive influx of more games has found a way to continue to be consistent and win games even if the adjustment wasn’t easy, he mastered it somehow. ‘It was definitely was a big adjustment in terms of just wear and tear on the body. But our trainers did an amazing job keeping us fresh and always being attentive to our needs’, added Jordan Faison. He has always been a good versatile player before coming to Japan, but now he is a great versatile player that knows exactly in what areas of his game have progressed. ‘ I definitely moved out to the perimeter a lot more while I’ve been in Japan. And my passing and decision making has improved because of that. I definitely feel like I’m a more all around player’, added Jordan Faison. When your dominating in every game and putting up 25 points a game, it gets difficult to pick a favorite personal performance. ‘I think one of my most memorable games was when we were able to pretty much seal the championship against the team we were fighting for first place against. The gym was packed and it was a very competitive weekend. But being able to pull that out and have the trophy presented to us at home the next week was special’, said Jordan Faison. When your making the court in Japan your own stomping ground and winning many games, why would you want to leave? The American will remain in Japan with the Tokyo Excellence for a third season and see how successful they can be. But he does remember his wake up call and that he did have to get used to a new different culture especially the exchanging of business cards which was a whole new process for him. ‘My wake up call was getting used to getting around using the trains. And it was pretty easy getting used to the culture because they’re so welcoming and very helpful’, stressed Jordan Faison. So what exactly is the secret to having the big city connection everywhere he has played to be able to translate over to success? I think playing in bigger cities obviously brings more fans naturally. And being known around the city as a successful basketball team brings an exciting energy to the games. So I think having the support of fans due to the big cities is a huge contributor to our success. It puts a good kind of pressure on us as players to want and win for the fans that support us’, warned Jordan Faison. With the luck that he has had in Japan, it would almost only make sense for him to remain in the gigantic city and let success continue to rule his basketball world.